The Week in Review #11: Rules of Business

The internet is a magical place. It provides us the ability to read, listen and speak to the people that matter in our life. These people may or may not know that we exist, however their words and thoughts leave a lasting impact on our lives. The article highlighted in this weekly edition comes from the founder of a company called Slack. He has an amazing back story, one which I will probably profile in the coming months. This week he published an insightful article on the rules of business, which made me think about the bigger picture. It helps us break away from the daily grind and reflect on why and how we do the things we do.

Rules of Business This isn’t the ordinary list of the 5 things that lead to success. This list forces you to take into account why you do what you do and the amount of pride and effort you take in your work. In a world filled with mediocrity, it challenges you to take account into the bigger picture.

The big mistake nearly every designer makes. We live in a world where we find ourselves always wishing for more time. In a blink the week passes us by and we find ourselves wondering where it went. This post talks about how to take control of your schedule and manage your time with greater effectiveness. It was a great read and listed some interesting products you could use to assist you along the way.

Failure Isn’t the Death of an Idea — It’s the Birth of a New Theory This post talks about three specific cases where the founders of the company pivoted from their original idea to one that became a billion dollar business. It has many great takeaways for founders who have yet to find their stride and steps they can take correct course.

Customer Lifetime Value: Evergreen Business How much does it cost you to acquire a customer? The one question that every entrepreneur ought to know, but rarely does. This post provides an end to end summary of everything you need to know on the subject. It also have some very valuable suggested readings that provided additional context.

5 Things We Learned Analyzing 100 Million+ Emails Email continues to be the highest converting channel for people and companies who sell online. Understanding how to build a list and write effective emails is a skill every entrepreneur should have. This article takes a look at what makes a good email and what you can do to improve your current skills.

What Four Steps Make You The Exception To The Rule James Altucher does it again with a great post on breaking free from the chains of mediocrity. Here’s the Rule: born, school for 12 years, college, grad school, job, sowing oats, marriage, kids, promotions, luxuries, retirement, death. Here’s the Fact: the Rule never happens. Enjoy the post.

Seven things I learned in venture It is always refreshing someone to hear from the perspective of a venture capitalist who has become an entrepreneur and vice versa. When you have been on both sides of the table it gives you greater clarity on what each side is looking for. When you understand your customer, selling something to them becomes infinitely easier.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #10: Building an Amazing Team

I stumbled upon the Podcast called Startup by Alex Blumberg this week and it was fantastic. Anyone who wants an inside view of what the founding of a startup is all about you should definitely download it. I switched up my spotify playlists for podcasts at the start of the year and it was one of the best decisions I made. Some of my favorite currently are The James Altucher Show and Tim Ferris’s Show. Both are highly recommended.

5 Tips on Building an Amazing Team Everyone talks about the importance of building an amazing team, however few realize the amount of work it takes to build them. This post gets readers to start thinking about the problem on the right foot. The hope is that startup founders put this as a priority and lay the necessary groundwork to make it happen.

To be a great leader, rethink your default behaviors I enjoyed this post about the default behaviors that each of us develop when we are in leadership positions. There are some common archetype that we all look up to and follow blindly. Sometimes we do not realize the impact our words and attitudes have on the people around us. What may seem to be a trivial comment in our mind, could have a major impact on the person receiving it.

We inspire smart people and trust them Transferwise has experienced exponential growth in the last 12-18 months. It is during these times that the quality bar of your hiring is severely tested. This post talks about some of the methods they use to keep that bar high and what results in high performance throughout the company.

A Billion-Dollar Company’s First Marketer Reflects Back Blog posts which get a critical player in a company to replay the key aspects of what turned a single idea into a massive company are very interesting to read. This post is about a company which I really admire, Hubspot. It is not only led by exceptionally smart individuals, they have managed to grow a company while keeping their culture intact. There are some great takeaways in this article from the journey.

New Relic’s Growth Playbook from Startup to IPO Another similar post to the one above. This one is however posted on the Growth Hackers website which is a great place to get news related to marketing and growth strategies. Highly recommend adding them to your reader list.

Capturing and Scaling Startup Values Determining the values that hold your startup together are a critical to a companies success. This is a very detailed post on how one company went about this process and their learnings along the way. Lots of great insights and recommended reading links.

The Two Most Important Questions to Ask at the Start of Your Startup These two questions have to do with the vision behind your company and how clearly you can describe it. In an era where short term thinking is driving incremental innovation, we need to start looking at the bigger picture and making bold bets rather than those that do not change the status quo.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #9: From Dead-End Job to Uber Billionaire

I picked up a pretty awesome book this weekend after reading through Ryan Holidays’ book “The Obstacle is the way“, it was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far and would definitely recommend it, especially to entrepreneurs reading this blog. The article of the week was an old one which resurfaced this week about the co-founder of Uber and how he hustled his way to join the company in it’s early days.

From Dead-End Job to Uber Billionaire: Meet Ryan Graves The biggest takeaway is that we have to choose ourselves if we want to truly want to live our life. We do this by using our skills to solve large problems that exist in the world today. It is at that intersection that we will find out purpose and true calling.

Ways to think about market size Great article on how think about the size of the market your business is planning to operate in. The best quote from the article was “Everyone likes to quotes the Wayne Gretzy line that he was skating to where the puck was going to be, not where it was, but Apple and Google didn’t do that – they changed what the game was.”

The Most Important Equations in Business (Part 1): Customer Acquisition How much does it cost a business to acquire a customer and how much money does the business make on that customer; these are the two questions that drive your business. This article goes into great length talking about these two questions with lots of great examples.

How Successful Remote Teams Evaluate Employees The concept of a physical office is slowly fading into the past. Companies are looking for ways on how to attract and recruit talent from all around the world today. This articles discusses strategies of how companies are addressing this shift.

7 Awesome Talent / Recruitment Hacks This is definitely a slightly technical post on how to recruit developers. I found these hacks to be very innovative and highlights how recruiting and sourcing is rapidly changing.

How I launched the #2 most upvoted product of all time on Product Hunt Product Hunt is one of the websites that I visit daily. It provides a dose of inspiration with all the awesome products that are launched everyday. This post provides a detailed analysis on how one founder really worked hard to get his startup to the top of the list. The big takeaway, have a clear goal, work hard and good things will happen.

What’s your GMT – The next goal, milestone and task? In a world where we are drowning in todo lists and a never ending stream of decisions to make, this article talks about a great framework to make sense of it all. By focusing our efforts on the clear next steps, we reduce noise and increase our ability to focus & get things done.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #7: Startup Advice, Briefly

The weekly practice of putting together this list has been most gratifying. Looking back at the past 6 issues I still think the classification of the posts with tags needs to become better. I have a couple of ideas that I may implement over the next couple of months to make the archive searchable with better granularity. If you have any comments on how I could make this post better please do leave a message or send me an email!

Startup advice, briefly This was definitely one of the best articles I came across this week. It is a summary of the startup class which ran in the last quarter of 2014. If you haven’t watched the series, I would highly recommend it. Starting a business is undoubtedly very challenging, the advice in this post distills some of the most pertinent advice which is relevant when just getting started.

To Succeed, Get to Failing This post is based on the upcoming book called Roadmap which is a collection of a 1000+ interviews, that a group of fresh graduates conducted with some of the most successful people in the world. They talk about societies stigma with failure and advice on how to overcome it to find success.

The Only Technique To Learn Something New James Altucher continues to churn out great content on a daily basis. This post breaks down the ten techniques which one can use to learn something new. One of the techniques which he calls “Study what you did” is probably the most insightful out of them all. Reflection on our actions and results is one of the best ways on how to adjust your process in getting the desired result. Sounds simple in theory, however is very difficult to do on consistent basis.

Customer Service Manifesto (PDF) This post is based on the book Zombie Loyalists, which I am looking forward to reading soon. It talks about the future where the age of “buy from us because we say we’re awesome” is over, and has truly been replaced by the age of “I’ll buy from
them because someone I trust says they’re awesome. This is a huge shift in the way we think and how business will be conducted. It has some very interesting case studies from the future of customer service as well.

Growth Is Optional: 10 Reasons Why Companies Fail At Growth Growth is critical to the success of any company. Every company wants to grow, however a majority of them do not put in place drivers that are going to drive that growth. The author highlights 10 pertinent reasons that may be holding you back.

The Most Important SaaS Metric Nobody Talks About: Time-to-Value (‘TtV’) Whether we start reading an article, a book or sign up for a new service; there is a gap between when we begin to receiving value from the activity. The delta between those two are critical and are usually a strong indicator of whether something will succeed or not. The author summarizes some key insights that can be used to reduce that delta.

What Startups can learn from a Sushi Chef This post is based on the documentary Jiro dreams of sushi. If you haven’t watched it yet, I would highly recommend it! At it’s core the documentary is all about choosing a skill set and dedicating your life to perfecting it. This goes against the current trend of becoming a generalist that is a jack of all trades and master of none.

23 Campaigns Every Startup Should Run to Gain Immediate Traction This is a very detailed how to post that talks about the specific steps to finding your target customers and validating demand for your product/service. The entire goal being to find the unit economics that drive your business, which are the lifetime value of a single customer and the cost of acquiring that customer.

The Three Dimensions Of Content Marketing Strategy For Startups When we think about content marketing we associate it with blog posts, whitepapers and perhaps presentations. This post breaks down content marketing into three dimensions and provides a host of examples on how to execute a far more granular strategy.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #6: Founder/Product Fit

My favorite article of the week was on Founder/Product fit. It is an important concept that I have come to understand a lot better over the years. When choosing to start a business, we are making a very large time commitment. One that could span decades, it is therefore critical that we spend the time upfront thinking about the choice before we make one.

Founder/Product Fit There is a lot of talk about product / market fit, however many people overlook the more important aspect which is whether there is a fit between the founder and the product he/she is building. This step is usually skipped with the presumption that the opportunity will enable the founder to develop the level of fit needed.

Answer this question & you’ll get unlimited funding for your startup Another great post by Jason on how to structure your pitch to investors correctly. It all comes down to understanding the motivations and aspirations of your customer, whether it be fund raising or selling your product/service to a customer.

At some start-ups, Friday is so casual that it’s not even a workday Treehouse is a company whose mission is to bring computer science education to the masses. With 100,000+ subscribers the company continues to grow at a staggering pace. However behind all of those achievement is a 4 day work week that prioritizes work life balance. Interesting read on how that changes the dynamic at work.

The Future of Organization (Presentation) I am fascinated with how the structure of organizations is rapidly changing around us. From the rapid rise of remote work to concepts of holacracy which promotes a flat organization with no managers. This presentation brings forth several key factors that are determining the future of the organization.

The Rule of 40% For a Healthy SaaS Company Brad Feld puts forward a great financial ratio that can be used specifically for companies who operate a subscription as a service model. It has always been tricky to correctly balance growth, costs and profit. The article provides a framework that will be very useful for companies in the industry.

The Striking Similarities Between Teachers and Start-up CEOs Jack Ma who is the founder of Alibaba was an English teacher before he started his company. The author walks us through 5 commonalities between the two career paths and they show a striking resemblance to one another.

The Impending Opportunity in Real Estate Technology The marriage of the real estate market and technology has always been fascinating to watch. This article breaks down where future integrations of the two will be taking us and the opportunities that lie ahead for entrepreneurs willing to take the risk.

Tension: The secret sauce of brand building This post was written by the design director at IDEO and it talks primarily about brand personalities. It is a great read for anyone who is thinking about their brand and what it means to their customers.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #5

Another week flies by and we are already done with the first week of February. I am very happy to have included at least 2 – 3 hours of reading per day into my schedule this year. By putting time on your calendar to actively take the time out to read is one of the best investments you can make in yourself!

How to Struggle (Well) Umair Haq continues to write well about life and our journey. Lots of his pieces in the Harvard Business Review have been ear marked to reflect on when I am finding inspiration. This piece written on the value of struggle was another good one.

Are Élite Colleges Bad for the Soul? The entire institution of higher learning is coming under threat. Personally I believe that the 4 year college program does very little to prepare students for the world that they are going to enter. There is also very little emphasis on self development and students are expected to comply with set standard to ensure good grades. This article provides a detailed view on the state of higher education, particularly in the elite colleges of the world.

Zappos is bringing Uber-like surge pay to the workplace This was a very interesting article on how Zappos is experimenting with the concept of surge pay for it’s call center staff during high volume periods. There are concerns that this goes against the very values that hold Zappos together. It will be interesting to see the results of this experiment.

How Stripe Marketed to Developers So Effectively Stripe has been one of the runaway success stories coming out of Y Combinator. The article provides an in depth analysis of their growth as well as their marketing strategies. Lots of great takeaways.

From 0 to $1B – Slack’s Founder Shares Their Epic Launch Strategy Slack is part of the batch of companies that experience exponential growth from the onset. In a market which had several competitors and very similar products, their growth has left many people stumped. This article provides some insight into how they launched their company to achieve the level of the growth they currently have.

What I Learned About Life After Interviewing 80 Highly Successful People If you didn’t subscribed to the James Altucher pod cast in 2014, I highly recommend that you put it on the list this year. There are some great interviews and almost every interview will leave you with some tangible bit of advice you can use. This post summarizes the first 80 interviews and what he learned from interviewing some of the most successful people in the world.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #4

This week has been quite hectic at work. With a major project delivery due soon everyone on the team was burning midnight oil. Hoping to start sharing perhaps one mid week post if possible when things settle down in Feb!

Launching Billion-Dollar Products (PDF) A well written summary of the book. Lots of insights of how self made billionaires were able to spot opportunities in saturated and hyper competitive markets.

Successful startups say “no” Great insights from Homebrew Partner Satya Patel. As entrepreneurs it is far too easy to get caught up in the latest trends, focusing on being exceptional at one or a few things is most times the keys to success.

A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Keith Rabois about Venture Capital and Business This blog continuously churns out great content with regards to lessons learned. This one about Keith Rabois had some great insights.

Salesforce’s First HR Manager Shares The Secret To Recruiting 650 People Three main takeaways which I can attest to as well as being one of the best measures of recruiting top talent.

Lessons learned from scaling a product team Intercom has been a product that I have watched grow from it’s infancy to where it is today. Great writeup on ow they scaled their product team.

The Design Sprint by Google Ventures If you are an entrepreneur or a designer this is something that you need to read and share with your product team.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!