Date archives "May 2015"

The Week in Review #21: Raising Kids to become Billionaires

Quora is one of my favorite websites. It is full of knowledge and insights that is usually inaccessible for most people. This week I stumbled across a great answer to a rather peculiar question. The question asked was whether there was a way to raise your kids to become billionaires. Every parent wants success for their children. The definition of success however varies from parent to parent. Some want their children to be happy and others push them very hard to achieve excellence. To become a billionaire it is not only a question of becoming the best in the world. Many people occupy the 1% of their respect industries and are not billionaires. Out of all the answers the highlighted one below really stood out.

The author provides a dozen points as to what he did to give his kids the best chance of becoming a billionaire. The list isn’t your usual work hard and aim to become the best. Rather it is contrarian in many ways to “good” parenting advice. The list includes not sending them to traditional schools, making them teen outcasts and making them feel worthy. I strongly recommend taking the time out to read the entire answer. In the comments his son has also responded to his father’s answer and the impact it has had on his life.

It was an inspiring read and the lessons within apply to each and everyone of us. Regardless if we become billionaires or not.

What are good ways to prepare my kids to become billionaires? The author provides 12 ways your children stand the best chance of becoming a billionaire. This isn’t your usual list of achieving success in life. Highly recommended.

Peter Thiel on what works at work Peter Thiel is the author a great book called Zero to One. He was also the first investor into facebook and founded Paypal. He is known for his contrarian way of thinking and this interview provides a great insight into his mind. The interview covers a broad array of leadership topics to what it takes to succeed today.

Skating To Where The Puck Will Be… Built Microsoft seems to be on a roll these days. Their latest operating system is getting rave reviews in beta. They have open sourced a lot of their technologies and tools. Lastly, there is a lot of hype about their foray into the virtual reality world. This article discusses the importance for business to skate to where the puck is going. Microsoft, Blackberry and a host of other companies made the mistake to ignore this during the last decade. They each paid a heavy price and now are doing their best not to repeat the same mistake.

The Metrics Every Entrepreneur Should Know by Heart If you have ever watched an episode of Shark Tank, you will know the importance of knowing your numbers. Being an entrepreneur requires one to work constantly with imperfect information. To do that effectively we need to make sure we know all the pieces of the puzzle where we know the answers. This post provides a good round up list of the metrics you should know.

Why you should make things no one will ever use This post has a lot of developer references to it. While the premise of the article applies aptly to developers, there is something we should all be able to take away from it. At it’s essence it is all about learning new skills and becoming proficient in them. When we stagnate that is when our life starts a downward spiral. We need to be constantly putting ourselves outside of our comfort zone and pushing ourselves to become better.

How to go faster Seth Godin wrote this brilliant piece of decision making. This short post talks about how we can stop dreaming and putting things into action. This is a key skill every entrepreneur needs to have.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #20: Leading with Values

This week I read the transcript of an interview with the CEO of Uni-lever which quite insightful. He is one of the few CEO’s of MNC’s that interviews entry level candidates. This showed the level of importance that is given to hiring at the company. During the interview he mentioned the one thing that he looks out for during interviews is the an alignment with company values.

Purpose and values go hand-in-hand. One states what you want to achieve, and the latter defines how you want to achieve it. Together they form the foundation on which a company is built. In the early days of a business, values are overlooked as a “nice to have”. They are left to be dealt with once the company grows to a certain size. This creates a large disconnect between the founders and employees as the business starts to grow. Primarily due to a mismatch in expectations between the founders values and those of the new hires. Whether values are formally expressed or not, they are at play from the first day a business is started. Setting them early pays huge dividends in the future.

The tao of Paul Polman Interview transcript with the CEO of Uni-lever. This article has some great insights on recruiting and managing growing workforces. The interview includes good advice on how to stay relevant in a rapidly changing world.

Why we should aim to build a forever company, not just a unicorn Everywhere we turn these days, someone is discussing the rise of unicorns. With a staggering amount of companies raising funding at valuations past $1bn, this article puts it into perspective. While increasing the value of your company is beneficial, it should not become the only focus. Our goal is to create a company that creates sustainable value and makes the world a better place. Article is filled with great quotes and references on the topic.

A Different Take on Talent Acquisition This was an interesting read. The author was asked the question about passion and talent by her daughter. The posts discusses her answer and how she thinks about the word talent and what it means. The article ends with an interesting reference to Greek mythology and the history of the world talent.

How to Fire Someone: How to Decide, When to do it, and How to be Guilt-free I still remember the first time I had to fire someone, it was very painful. I don’t think it ever gets easier, however I wish I had read this article before I did. Like all the Evergreen articles it goes into detail about the process and how to approach it. Something every entrepreneur should be familiar with.

Kevin Rose’s top advice for founders I am a big Kevin Rose fan. He has done a set of awesome interviews at If you haven’t checked this out you should. In this article he discusses the five pieces of advice he gives to all founders. He made a point that entrepreneurs tend to take on too much at once, something I have been guilt of many times. This is a great short read with links to his other shows.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #19: We Don’t Sell Saddles Here

One of the success stories of 2014 was the meteoric rise of the business communication app called Slack. Countless of articles have been written about its exponential growth. This week, I stumbled upon a letter the founder had written to his team last year. What stood out in the post is the founders understanding of the customer need. On the surface it may seem like one of the hundreds of chat applications that are available. However, Slack was positioned as a tool to reduce the information overload plaguing companies across the world.

This nuanced understanding of the problem is in my opinion why customers have signed up in droves. It shows the importance of positioning and marketing your product correctly. Too often entrepreneurs are busy talking about their features when the should be addressing the core problem at hand. Another company that has experienced similar growth is Uber. Instead of positioning them as a taxi hailing application, they talk about solving our basic transportation needs.

These two examples show the importance of truly understanding the market you operate in. Without a deep understanding we will never be able to satisfy a customers core need. This would result in selling ourselves short and not living up to our true potential.

We Don’t Sell Saddles Here The highlighted article of the week is about the rise of Slack. This article provides the back story that formed the foundation of its massive growth. The primary focus of the article is the importance of understand the core customer need. This enables the entrepreneur to position and market their company far more effectively.

How Do I Know If I Should Take A Job At A Startup? James Altucher shares another great post on whether to join a startup. The most important point shared is the one related to vision. If the companies purpose and vision doesn’t excite you, in my opinion that is a deal breaker. This advice is the same whether you are applying to a startup or hoping to join P&G.

36 Things I’ve Learned During My First Three Months Investing Reading articles from the point of view of entrepreneurs turned investors is interesting. This article provides a great set of lessons learned. Entrepreneurs who are raising venture financing would benefit from reading this list. Getting an insight into the mind of your customer is essential and this list is a great starting point.

The High Price of the Wrong Solution Articles which use stories to illustrate a point are very effective. This is a great example of such an article. The main takeaway from the article is about assessing how your solution is tackling a problem at hand. Far too often we get bogged down with the details and lose sight of the bigger picture. This story helps to bring some perspective.

Want to Hire More Diverse People? Raise Your Bar. A majority of companies treat recruiting as a one off activity. Without a process we are solely relying on luck to fill important roles. This post provides a brief overview of what some structure would like. The post also includes some links which are well worth the read as well.

Hope Is Not a Launch Strategy Launching your startup to the world can be nerve racking experience. This article goes through the exact launch process of a startup called Leanflix. It is full of detailed advice on what to look out for during launch. What I liked the most about the post was that they showed what worked and what didn’t. Lots of great insights to be learned.

Inside The Mind That Built Google Brain: On Life, Creativity, And Failure This article profiles the life of Andrew Ng. An engineer who is working in the field of artificial intelligence. I enjoy reading detailed profiles on successful individuals. One gets to learn the habits they attribute to their success and what truly drives them. This is a fascinating article and his thoughts on the future of artificial intelligence is well worth the read.

Little Lifehacks Guaranteed to Improve Your Existence If all of us aim to be 1% better everyday, we can achieve the impossible. This short article highlights 10 things we can do to make our lives just a little bit better. My favorite lifehack is to schedule walk and talk meetings. I look forward to each one of these and believe they are far more productive than your usual meetings over coffee.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #18: Seneca on Gratefulness

After listening to a podcast with Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss earlier this year, I started reading some books on Stoicism. Currently I am reading “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca. It has been a fascinating read. I have never highlighted and bookmarked a book as much as this one. Yesterday I came across a passage which really resonated with me. This particular letter was on gratefulness and it’s importance in our daily lives. My favorite passage is reproduces below.

“The ungrateful man tortures and torments himself; he hates the gifts which he has accepted, because he must make a return for them, and he tries to belittle their value, but he really enlarges and exaggerates the injuries which he has received. And what is more wretched than a man who forgets his benefits and clings to his injuries?

Wisdom, on the other hand, lends grace to every benefit, and of her own free will commends it to her own favour, and delights her soul by continued recollection thereof. Evil men have but one pleasure in benefits, and a very short-lived pleasure at that; it lasts only while they are receiving them. But the wise man derives therefrom an abiding and eternal joy. For he takes delight not so much in receiving the gift as in having received it; and this joy never perishes; it abides with him always. He despises the wrongs done him; he forgets them, not accidentally, but voluntarily.

He does not put a wrong construction upon everything, or seek for someone who he may hold responsible for each happening; he rather ascribes even the sins of men to chance. He will not misinterpret a word or a look; he makes light of all mishaps by interpreting them in a generous way. He does not remember an injury rather than a service. As far as possible, he lets his memory rests upon the earlier and the better deed, never changing his attitude towards those who have deserved well of him.”

…Be Like Dave This week the CEO of Survey Monkey passed away tragically. There was an out pour of posts about David Goldberg and the life he led. I enjoyed reading this piece by Bill Gurley. It also fits into the theme of this week’s post on paying attention to the type of life we lead and what we want to leave behind. Far too often we overlook the long term and focus on the short term. Our interactions, character and contributions to society is what we are going to be remembered by.

To Invent the Future, You Must Understand the Past This was a long but fascinating read. If you are interested in the birth of Silicon Valley this article has it all. It also has some great insights into pattern matching and what is needed to truly understand how to build a successful company.

Ten things I learned studying ten of the world’s fastest growing startupsGrowth is an integral part of the success of any business. This article provides a great summary of the tactics and strategies employed by the fastest growing companies in the world. My favorite lesson was “Don’t try to boil the ocean”. Picking a niche and dominating it before growing into other segments is key.

Well, We Failed. Startup failure post mortems are very valuable reads for entrepreneurs. They provide insight of what worked and specifically what didn’t. This helps us to refocus our efforts and pay attention the small things that may snowball. The founder put together a gorgeous pitch deck for his startup be sure to check it out.

Valuation As A Scorecard In a world where 17 startups can raise a combined $1,401,700,000 in one day, valuations seem to be what everyone talks about. Fred Wilson writes a superb post that puts this number into context. If you are an entrepreneur and you are not subscribed to AVC you should subscribe today!

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. I recently resubscribed to posts by James Clear. He does a great job of churning out quality content every week. Would definitely recommend his blog. This post was a great read and to an extent summarizes the main point that Scott Adams makes in his book “How to fail at everything and still Win Big”. In summary it isn’t about setting goals, rather it is the systems that we need to put into place that get us where we want to go.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #17: The Finish Line Theory

As entrepreneurs we are always in a rush to get to some preset goal. As we move from one milestone to the next we begin to lose sight of the race we are running. We get so caught up in the details, sometimes we don’t even remember what we were running for in the first place. The quote “Life is a marathon not a sprint” is a core building block of the highlighted article this week. Which talks about the vicious cycle that causes burn out among entrepreneurs. This causes them to throw in the towel before they ever get to a finish line. While motivation is a big component of avoiding burnout, I believe there is a larger force at play.

Another article shared this week talks about the company Foursquare. Since the year 2000 the founder of the company has been working on the problem of local discovery. The ability for anyone to discover cool places based on their interests around them. Foursquare is actually his second attempt at solving this problem. Companies have come and left the space unable to create a viable business. Yet, Dennis the founder of the Foursquare just keeps at it. I believe within this story lies the secret of what it takes to reach the finish line. When we care about something that is larger than ourselves, we have this bottomless pit of energy. Regardless of setbacks and failures, we get up every morning and do our best to break through the brick wall.

When we have a ‘why’ behind ‘what’ we do, reaching the finish line is only a matter of ‘when’.

The Finish Line Theory This was the best article I read this week. It talks about the theory of what it takes for us to reach the finish line. The author challenges the conventional wisdom that we should treat life like a marathon and not a sprint. He introduces a clever deviation from the original to show a better way to look at the problem of motivation and avoiding burnout.

The days are long but the decades are short Sam Altman manages the prestigious Y-Combinator accelerator. The one program that every startup in the world wants to have a shot at joining. He turned 30 last week and wrote down 36 life lessons learned. It is a great list and one I enjoyed reading. The best lesson is the heading of the article. I do think we severely overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate our long term potential.

Subtle Mid-Stage Startup Pitfalls Jessica Livingston co-founded Y Combinator and wrote this great post. Having seeing thousands of startups work their way from a kernel of an idea to becoming some of the largest companies in the world gives you perspective. It gives us the ability to recognize patterns. This article is full of great advice for companies of all stages. My favorite one is “It never gets easier”. Far too often we think that if we clear just one more hurdle, things will become easier. However that is never the case. There will be a new set of challenges and more hurdles to clear. This is the path we have chosen for ourselves.

3 Steps to Finding Product/Market Fit All of us are searching for the elusive product/market fit. The stage where our business will stumble across the exact opportunity where it solves a key need in the world that a lot of people want to pay for. Finding this fit is something very few startups are able to do successfully. The author provides a set of comprehensive steps from customer discovery to specifically the questions you can ask during this journey. A great resource for an entrepreneur who is just getting started.

Dennis Crowley Takes Another Stab at Explaining Foursquare Foursquare has been a startup that I have been watching closely from the sidelines. It is not what they do that interests me, rather it is the persistence of the founder that is inspiring to watch. Dennis Crowley has had the idea of Foursquare since the year 2000. Ever since he has been working on solving the problem, continually making advances as technology catches up to his vision. In this article he talks about the journey so far and how the latest technology advances has brought him closer to achieving his dreams than ever before.

How to learn from mentors As entrepreneurs we dream about the perfect mentor. The person who has already traveled the path we are on. We do our best to seek out these people. Hoping their wisdom will enable us to avoid mistakes and get to our destination faster. Anyone who doesn’t fit our image of who this person needs to be, gets left by the wayside. In our search for this elusive person, we often forget to pay attention to the people around us. The ones who are wanting to help us the most. Often it is the people who we least expect, to have the greatest impact on our lives. This article does a great job of pointing this out.

Stop Making Users Explore As a user experience enthusiast and someone who designs system, this article was fascinating. Often as designers we get blindsided by our own needs and wants that we discount what the customer actually wants to achieve. The author does a great job of pointing out how to overcome this problem and the miracles it can do for your products uptake.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!