Category

Startup CEO

Startup CEO, Second Edition

I haven’t taken a poll to figure out the overlap between people who read this blog and people that bought the first edition of Startup CEO, but I’m guessing there’s a high degree of it. If you are familiar with the book, I don’t want to bore you with a recap of what I wrote, but I thought I would devote the next several blogs to new ideas in the second edition. First, the new cover art from the publisher is kind of cool: The first question you might have is, “Why a second edition? Didn’t you say everything you needed to say the first time?” The answer to that is, yes, I did say everything I had to say…

Back in Business

If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time (amazingly, it is over 16 years old now!), you know that my company and main professional life’s work up to this point, Return Path, was a 1999 vintage email technology company that we sold last year.  I then had a couple other interim leadership roles, first as interim CEO of another tech company in New York, then in March as the founder and interim leader of Colorado’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, which I wrote a series of blog posts about (this is the final post in the series, which links to the whole series). I’ve generally been quiet on OnlyOnce since last year, but I will be picking up the…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part VII – Retrospective

(This is the seventh and final post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.) I’ll start the final post in this series by sharing the overview and retrospective deck that we created my last day and the two days after.  Governor Polis is going to share this with the National Governors Association in case other states are interested in our model or learnings. This pdf, which you’re welcome to download or just view in SlideShare, is a good overview of what we did and where things stood as of Saturday, March 28, noting that by the…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part VI – How This Compared to Running a Company

(This is the sixth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.) As these posts have been running, a few people have asked me to quickly compare this experience to the experience of being a Startup CEO.  And that’s an interesting way to think about it. In a lot of ways, the couple of weeks of getting the IRT up and running felt like starting up a new business, only a lot more intense.  Following the outline of sections in Startup CEO:  a field guide to scaling up your business… Part One: Storytelling.  The whole timeframe was…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part V – Wrapping Up, Days 10-12

(This is the fifth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, 3, and 4.) Thursday, March 26, Day 10 Sarah continuing to take over and stronger by the day Sarah cleared me to go home, only one more person to ask Deep deep dive on Mass Testing – so good to spend that time  Pretty much got the strategy right – shocking we could get that close with so little public health experience – Kyle awesome – EOC leadership briefing That was most of the day Some downloads to Sarah and Kacey Feeling that two of our project teams are…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part IV – Replacing Myself, Days 7-9

(This is the fourth post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Other posts in order are 1, 2, and 3.) Monday, March 23, Day 7 Wellness screening – put hot cup of coffee against my temples – now finally the thermometer works (although I can’t say that it gives me a high degree of comfort that I have figured out a workaround!) Furious execution and still backlog is growing no matter how much I do – thank goodness team is growing.  Never seen this before – work coming in faster than I can process it, and I am a fast processer. Inbox clean when I go to…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part III – Hitting Our Stride, Days 4-6

(This is the third post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  First two posts are here and here.) Friday, March 20, Day 4 Morning pilates going pretty well, a good daily routine here Wellness Screening on the way in for the first time.  Uniformed National Guard guys taking temperature on surface of face/temples.  Can’t get it to work – takes 6x Leadership and prioritization of important over urgent – staff the team Strategic National Stockpile failure – they send us 60,000 masks and Colorado is using 68,000/day.  They send us ZERO ventilators. Seems like it’s neither strategic nor a stockpile. Guess it really is every state for…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part II – Getting Started, Days 1-3

(This is the second post in a series documenting the work I did in Colorado on the Governor’s COVID-19 Innovation Response Team – IRT.  Introductory post is here.) Tuesday, March 17, Day 1 Extended stay hotel does not have a gym.  Hopefully there is one at work Walking into office for the first time.  We are in a government building in a random town just south of Denver that houses the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.  These are the teams who are on point for emergency response in Colorado when there is any kind of fire, flood, cyberattack, or other emergency MAJOR Imposter Syndrome – I don’t know anything about anything…

State of Colorado COVID-19 Innovation Response Team, Part I – A Different Kind of Startup

(This is going to be an interesting week.  I expect in a couple days, a group of friends and former Return Path colleagues and I are going to officially start a new company once initial funding closes.  I will write about that down the road, but first, this message brought to you by COVID-19.) I just returned from spending an intense two weeks in Denver.  On March 15, my long-time friend and Board member Brad Feld called me with an interesting idea.  His friend, Colorado Governor Jared Polis (who I’d met a briefly couple times over the years), had an idea of starting and rapidly scaling up a task force in the state government and wanted to tap a private…

What Job is Your Customer Hiring You to Do?

My friend George, one of our co-founders at Return Path (according to him, the best looking of the three), has a wonderful and simple framing question for thinking about product strategy:  what job is your customer hiring you to do?  No matter what I’m working on, I am finding George’s wisdom as relevant as ever, maybe even more so since I am still learning the new context. Why is this a useful question to ask?  It seems really simple – maybe even too simple to drive strategy, doesn’t it? It’s very easy in technology and content businesses (maybe other spaces too) to get caught up in a landslide of features and topics. In a dynamic world of competition and feature…

The Nachos Don’t Have Enough Beef in Them!

(This is an excerpt from Chapter 23 of Startup CEO, “Collecting Data,” in which I write about the importance of observing and learning from customers and friends of the firm, as well as employees.) Here’s a story for you that happened 10+ years ago. I’m sitting at the bar of Sam Snead’s Tavern in Port St. Lucie, Florida, having dinner solo while I wait for my friend Karl to arrive. I ask the bartender where he’s from, since he has an accent. Nice conversation about how life is rough in Belfast and thank goodness for the American dream. I ask him what to order for dinner and tell him a couple of menu items I’m contemplating. He says, “I don’t…