Date archives "December 2015"

The Week in Review # 45: Thank You for the Support!

I can’t believe 2015 is coming to an end. I clearly remember writing the first issue of this series. This was one of the habits I am glad I was able to stick with this year. I have received many emails from readers telling me how they look forward to receiving this list every week. Aiming to continue writing this series in 2016. Looking back at the year there is so much to be grateful for.

1. I had the opportunity to travel far more than I have in prior years. This resulted spending more time with friends and family which was great. As entrepreneurs we tend to get caught up in our work and forget the big rocks in our life. When we are able to keep things in equilibrium the overall quality of life increases leaps and bounds.

2. I have read 41 books so far this year. This is something I had been missing out on over the last couple of years. It is a very easy to prioritize just about anything over reading. Taking the time out everyday to get 1 – 2 hours of reading has an exponential impact on your learning goals.

3. This year we transitioned to a completely remote team. This was a big step to give up our office space and get everyone to work remotely. I am extremely grateful to have the opportunity to work side by side with some of the best people I have worked with. We have built a very strong foundation and are poised to achieve great things in 2016.

4. 2015 was also the year I stepped up on my cooking skills. This has resulted in eating healthier and overall feeling a lot better about life. While I didn’t take part in a competitive race this year, I was a regular at the gym. This is another habit I hope to continue in 2016. My aim is to get a personal trainer next year and improve step things up a notch.

5. I am extremely grateful to having a great support system in both my family and friends. This year had its share of ups and downs. During each of those moments I am extremely thankful for having people around me who were there to enjoy the good times and help me through the bad ones.

Take the time today to thank someone who has been a pillar of support to you this year. This should be something that you do on a regular basis. With that I would like to thank all of the readers of this series. I wish all of you the very best of luck and success in 2016.

What I am reading and watching this week

Shut up and be patient “A good life is not a life without problems. A good life is a life with good problems. And so it’s despite the turbulence of the rocky waves and twisting tides, I can sometimes stare into the heart of my confusion and the crossed strains of joy and sadness, and smile and be grateful that it’s all there.” Very well written article about life transitions and how to manage them.

Is Now A Good Time To Start A Company? I get this question a lot these days. With everyone wanting to start up these days, the author provides great advice. “The best time to start a company is when you have a unique perspective on a market, you have developed a strong network of people who can form your founding team, and you can convince a few of these friends that the idea is worth pursuing.”

Blank’s Rule – To predict the future 1/3 of you need to be crazy Steve Blank along with Eric Ries brought us the lean startup methodology. In this article he provides us with great examples of how we need to encourage the moon shot and crazy ideas to have a shot at predicting the future.

Everything you need to know about bitcoin and blockchain The entire concept of bitcoin along with block chain is always difficult to get your head around. This presentation provides the reader with a complete break down on both topics. Great primer for anyone who is interested in learning more.

The First 90 Days (Book) This book had been on my list for a long time. Finally got through it this week. We have recently onboarded several new employees. The book was very helpful in tweaking our onboarding process. Would recommend this book if you are hiring or part of fast growing team.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review # 44: Disciplined Personal Growth

The fog thickens. The pilot has no visibility in the cockpit. At this moment the only way he knows the direction of the plane is through his instruments. Now imagine a plane without these instruments. The pilot would most likely become overwhelmed and the story wouldn’t end well. In moments of panic we become immobilized, time compresses and we end up making critical mistakes.

Imagine living your life like that. Where the slightest of hiccups would result in knee jerk reactions. Most of which would make the situation worse. Blaming circumstances or external factors may provide temporary respite. However, we are bound to find ourselves in similar situations if we don’t do something about it. To avoid such missteps we need to incorporate processes and habits into our life. These act like our instruments that help guide us when we get caught in bad situations.

A few instruments that have greatly helped me are:

1. Differentiating high and low value activities

This habit has greatly improved my productivity in 2015. With an ever growing list of distractions, maintaining focus is becoming harder everyday. At the end of each day I record the 3 top tasks I was able to accomplish. I also set 3 core tasks for the following day. This helps bring focus to the major items I need to clear to reach my goals. At the end of the day if I see myself not completing those tasks, it acts as a feedback loop. If I continue to stay misaligned it forces me to do a reset and re-evaluate the goals I am working towards.

On the flip side when you are able to check off those items on a regular basis, results follow. Progress can be seen on a daily basis and you begin to inch closer to your destination.

2. Gathering personal feedback on a regular basis

I discussed feedback loops a few weeks ago. They are an essential component to ensure you are on the right path. Build processes to enable frequent check ins with the people that matter most to you in life. Both at work and at home.  Ask them how you are doing and give them feedback on their actions. Without building a strong feedback loop, we could be checking off priority items everyday at a very high cost.

Feedback provides us with necessary reality checks when we need them the most. In the short run they will hurt. However in the longer run we will enjoy a stronger and closer relationship with the people who matter to us.

3. Listening to your body for clues

Without our health there is very little we can accomplish. The good news is that our body is very good at leaving clues for us when things are starting to go wrong. If you find yourselves continuously tired and not operating optimally, you may need more sleep. Feeling lethargic all the time? Take a look at your diet and the sort of food you are consuming. Are you putting on too much weight? Fix your diet and get into an exercise routine. Continuously on the edge and stressed out at work and home? Perhaps you should look into meditation and mindfulness.

Our body is leaving clue for us to listen to all the time. If we start paying attention and start making the necessary changes, it will dramatically improve the quality of your life.

The core ingredient making any of these instruments work is discipline. Without it we will struggle to get anything done. 

All of us know the benefits of being more disciplined in our lives. We have been told umpteen times by our family, teachers and anyone who really cares about us. The only person who has the ability to build this muscle is yourself. It requires a daily practice of taking small steps and repeating them everyday. Learning to say no to distractions and focusing on the bigger picture. If we are able to do that we will be surprised by what we can achieve.

What I am reading and watching this week

Full speed, then stop, gracefully This was one of the best things I read last week. Seth Godin is a source of inspiration and his ability to write quality posts everyday is remarkable. This post talks about a very important topic about quitting. It was triggered by a big announcement by Dropbox earlier this week. However it is very relevant to entrepreneurs who are struggling with what they are working on.

Stay Focused on Your Goals Not Your Critics Mark Suster is another favourite author of mine. An entrepreneur turned venture capitalist he has a great blog. This post about focusing on your work and not letting negativity bog you down is great. It is in line with the topic of the post this week. By having the discipline to remain focused we have the ability to achieve great things.

Getting Meaningful Customer Feedback Talk to your customers everyday. Simple advice that most startups often overlook. This post provides great advice on how to get meaningful customer feedback. It includes specific steps and case studies of how these practices were used by the author in prior companies. This post is filled with great insights.

If I can’t build a product, what good am I? I have made the mistake of solely focusing on the product and not distribution. This is a very expensive mistake. In this post the author talks through this mistake and how entrepreneurs should address it.

The Open Startup The open startup movement is awesome to watch. Founders are spending more time talking to their prospective customers and building distribution before the product is built. This post has 10 great takeaways from the movement. If you are planning on starting up in 2016 you should definitely take a look at this post.

If You Really Want to Change the World (Book) Enjoyed reading this book. The authors are very successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Having brought us products like Siri and many others. The book provides a framework that they use when accessing new ventures. It was well written with many examples supporting the framework.

Master of None (Video) Aziz Ansari has out done himself in this intelligent and witty comedy. I finally got through the whole season and it is worth watching. I liked the fact that each episode revolved around key issues. His book Modern Romance is also on my reading list.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review # 43: Operating on the Edge

Your heart starts to beat faster. A flurry of emotions begin to take over. It is a strange sensation where you are excited and scared at the same time. Something inside you pushes you forward, breaking past boundaries once thought to be unsurpassable. Unsure how things are going to play out. This is unexplored territory. We are far removed from the safe enclave of our comfort zones. It is in these moments when we realize who we really are. We have a choice at this juncture. Break out of the homogeneous moulds society wants us to adhere to or play it safe and stay within those boundaries.

The risks of playing it safe are never apparent in the short run. We work hard to collect all the badges the world expects of us. Getting married, getting a secure job, buying a house and taking the occasional holidays. In our quest to check all the boxes we have taken the greatest risk of all. We have given up on our dreams and failed to grow into the person we had always wanted to be.

Each and everyone has the ability to make a difference in this world. The choice is ours whether we choose to pursue that path or not. The journey requires us to work harder and take more risks than most. It is only when we are operating on the edge of uncertainty are we are able to grow into our true potential. When we are able to push ourselves to achieve what was one thought impossible.

Always remember it is never too late to get started on this path.



What I am reading and watching this week

Founders often ask how they should split equity with their co-founder One of the most read posts of this blog my take on splitting founder equity. This post provides additional insights on how that split should take place. This is a very important decision for your startup. It should be given the importance and thought it deserves!

Macro perspective: The startup party is far from over! The author is one of the entrepreneurs I respect greatly. He has built a massive company in the online classifieds space and now is an active investor. While it is in his interest to perpetuate the frothy climate for startups, it was refreshing to hear the other side of the coin.

How to save yourself from a bad startup idea that looks good I interact with entrepreneurs all the time. As a result I get pitched a lot of ideas while they are in their early and formative stages. Defining what makes one idea good and another one bad can be tricky in some situations. This is an extensive post on breaking down this problem. Saving yourself from pursuing a bad idea could save you years!

Why Smart People Act So Stupid “A bat and ball cost a dollar and ten cents. The bat costs a dollar more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?” If you answered that question relatively quickly you will want to read the entire article!

A behavioral approach to product design Designing and building a new product is hard. This post breaks down the process into four easy to understand components. The article discusses each component with the help of easy to understand examples which makes it very simple to understand the underlying framework.

The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance (Book) Employee recognition is something that I am thinking about a lot these days. This is one of the better books I have read on the topic. It has a lot of great case studies and is based on an extensive research project. If you are leading a growing team I would recommend this book.

Chef’s Table – Season 1 (Video) This week’s post by inspired by some of the episodes in this documentary. It all about the top chef’s of the world and their process. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to learn about following their passion and achieving excellence.