The Week in Review #15: Stacking Bricks

There are no overnight successes. When we dig a little deeper, we usually find years of hard work culminating at the one point which is visible. As humans we grossly overestimate our capabilities in the short term. What we miss out on, is how our success is made up of the small steps we take on a daily basis. Almost every habit we have is a result of the decisions we make everyday. We have to make a conscious effort to want to improve ourselves. This requires us to have patience to practice a few principles everyday.

The highlighted article this week outlines an entrepreneur who has done just that. By showing up and doing the work everyday, he has put himself in a position to become an overnight success.

Building an Empire with a Single Brick: Meet Patrick McKenzie Great article talking about how Patrick has built his business from the ground up. Lots of great insights on learnings he had along the way and how it resulted in his next big project.

Think big, start small, act fast Building on the theme above, this article has a great takeaway. A problem I have personally struggle with is the starting small part. Like most entrepreneurs I have the ability to think really big. It is taking that big idea and breaking it down into small steps which I find very challenging. This article provides a great framework and some clear examples of how to get started.

The 1000th Post On How To Find Your Passion In Life Finding your passion, is a topic which I frequently write and talk about. James Altucher does an amazing job of taking three models of potentially finding your passion and walking us through them. These along with Jim Collins golden circle are among my favorite exercises to discover your passion & purpose.

No, but really, how much should I charge for my work? This is a question that is brought up in hundreds of forum posts on the internet. How should I charge for the services I provide. The author breaks down the process is a very logical fashion and helps you arrive at a number which will enable you to answer this question correctly.

Get Out Of The Way Dave Morin is the founder of the mobile app called Path. In this post he talks about a struggle that most designer and product founders have, getting out of the way. Sometimes we have a disconnect between what we think the users want and what they actually need. This creates a disconnect in the relationship and ultimately strains it. He uses the example of his application and how getting out of the way helped him exponentially improve the business.

Characteristics of B2B unicorn ideas The world of enterprise software fascinates me. The industry is changing rapidly and legacy service providers are being disrupted everyday. This post breaks down the most disruptive companies in the space, outlining what makes them unique. This is a great for founders venturing into this vertical or even building their first product.

Lessons from a failed pitch with Paul Graham Another great recap post on lessons learned. This one is especially interesting as the author walks us through his experience of pitching to one of the world’s best angel investors. Once you have read the article, I would encourage you to watch the video of his pitch as well. This helps to bridge the concepts discussed.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #14: The Power of Authenticity

Imagine being able to live everyday, doing what you love. The one thing that not only brings you joy, it helps those around you.

Being true to who we are, is a rare gift. We are constantly putting on a slew of masks in our attempt to fit in. Changing our habits and interests based on those around us. This blocks our ability to live a fulfilled and meaningful life. The day we unshackle ourselves from the imaginary chains that society holds us by, we are able to truly live a life worth living. The highlighted article of this week is about a company called Lynda. A business which was started to help people equip themselves with the skills they need to succeed. The founders have a truly aspirational story.

lynda.com and the Power of Authenticity The big news this week was the acquisition of lynda.com by Linkedin. This article provides a good overview of what made lynda.com stand out and the secret’s to their success. There is also a great short video embedded about the power of design and problem solving by the founder.

What I’d tell myself about startups if I could go back 5 years. Recap posts are among my favorite type of blog posts. These are the posts where we get to learn directly from people as to what worked and what didn’t. With over 63 bit sized pieces of advice, this article doesn’t disappoint.

Consistency and discipline over motivation Procrastination can be a real threat to our productivity. This article talks about the times when we lack the motivation to get something done. I am sure this is a feeling everyone of us has experienced at some point. The author talks about how to remove the need of motivation and replace it with discipline. When we are able to make the shift, there is a dramatic increase in our productivity. Having personally practiced this, I can attest to the fact that it works.

The Simple Numbers That Could Change How You Hire Most recruiting articles follow an archaic process of listing down how you should hire. This article takes a different approach by breaking it into 4 parts supported by numbers. It walks you through sequentially on all the major stages and what you should be looking out. Lots of great insights to be gleaned and highly recommended for those hiring.

The best single lesson Bill Gates gave every startup & product manager Short blog post on the best advice Bill Gates gave every startup. In a nutshell it is, do not let perfection get in the way of success. This is something that I personally struggle with and am working to get over. The article mentions some interesting products that achieved greatness following this advice.

Why Startups Fail and How to Build Up Interest Before the Launch Building traction for a new business is always challenging. How do you go about getting ready to launch and build up an early following. This article goes through the process with some great insights and takeaways.

6 Reasons why a startup should invest in a brand strategy at the very beginning Branding is a topic that gets discussed rarely in the startup world. However businesses like Warby Parker have clearly shown us that it can be a central component of your success. This article discusses why branding is critical to your success and how to get started with it.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #13: The Passion Recipe

Purpose and passion are two concepts I spend a substantial amount of time thinking about. Passion is the popular concept of the two. It is easier to wrap our head around. We are passionate about the things which bring us joy and happiness. Our passions change as we grow and evolve. When someone asks what we are passionate about, we usually can come up with answer. Alternatively if someone asks us about our purpose, it’s like being a deer caught in the headlights. The simple reason is that most of us do not know our purpose.

Finding your purpose begins with discovering your passions and personal strengths. These two leave clues for us. The first step in finding your purpose is becoming aware of these clues. The next involves challenging the status quo and thinking about matters larger than ourselves. The highlighted article this weeks helps you to start uncovering those clues.

The Passion Recipe: Four Steps To Total Fulfillment Steven Kotler co-authored the book, Bold. I highly recommend it as it forces us to look at the bigger picture. This article walks readers through the process of thinking through how to discover their passions and use them ultimately to find your purpose.

Elon Musk Chose Himself: Here’s How James Altucher wrote this article based on quotes by Elon Musk. We get to hear about the key decisions in his career. Topics range from his largest mistakes to what he hopes to acheive before he dies. The reader is left inspired and motivated to think bigger than they ever have.

My Startup Failed Starting a new business is very challenging. Chances are that you are going to fail. What matters is how you learn from the experience, pick yourself up and give it another go. This article talks about the entire journey of a first time entrepreneur. Lots of great insights and how he is moving forward with what he learned.

The Ultimate Guide To Price Strategy Pricing your product or service well is critical to the success of your business. The most common strategy is to pull a number out of the air or a percentage on top of our costs. This article provides an in-depth analysis of the various strategies that you could potentially use. A must read guide for entrepreneurs just starting out and unsure about their pricing strategy.

How to Master The Discipline of Product Management A business is built around a product or service. If the product isn’t great, chances of long term success are slim. The question to ask is, how do we build a great product? This articles walks you through the basic steps around good product development and management. Starting with clearly identifying the customer need. There are also great links that provide greater granularity to the subject.

Being Inspired: The Jedi Way How do you get unstuck after hitting a brick wall? That question comes to the mind of everyone who needs to be creative on a daily basis. This article uses quotes from Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi to help you fight through the resistance.

NO DICKHEADS!: A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, and Creative Teams. Culture develops, regardless of whether it is worked upon or not. Every decision from the moment you step into the office to how you make a client feel, contributes to your companies culture. This article walks us through a comprehensive guide on steps you can take to create a great company culture.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #12: The Secret to Big Ideas

Bill Gates is attributed to have said “Most people underestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in lifetime”. In a world where there the quest for instant gratification keeps increasing; we are robbing ourselves of our potential of what could be. All of us have the potential to create the change that we want to see in the world. Anything that we say to the contrary is our internal defensive mechanism asking us to take the easier path. The one where there will be the least resistance. It’s time that we start to look at the bigger picture and think about the mark we want to make in the world. It is never too late to begin.

The Secret to Big Ideas Everything is a remix. This article talks about how some of the biggest ideas came from the most unlikeliest of places. There are several origin stories in this article I read for the first time that fascinated me. The key piece of insight from the article is that instead of searching for the next original idea look at the products we already have and repurpose them for something else.

Fascinating Early Posts From Tech Founders Who Changed The World When we read about the companies that changed the world like Amazon, Ebay and Paypal; we often forget that once upon time they were small businesses trying to make it in the world. Reading these emails was inspiring to see what one can accomplish with perseverance and focus.

The 15 Second Rule Pitching is a key skill every entrepreneur needs to be great at. This post walks through the process of how one startup got coaching from some of the best presenters in the world and transformed their pitch. Several great takeaways for founders who are wanting to improve their pitching skills.

Why Louis CK Turned Down $500,000 and Invested in Himself Having the courage to believe in yourself and chart your own path is rare. Several people believe they have the ability to do so. However when it comes time to take that leap, very few are able to. This is a great story about one of the best comedians of our times and how he had the courage to take that leap.

How To Know if Your Cofounder Will Quit on You Cofounders is a topic a fascinates me. This article talks through the eventual breakup of a partnership and the key lessons learned. The main take away is that while starting a company is easy, we have to be doing it for the right reasons. When we do not clarify internally what we truly want, that is when communication eventually breaks down and problems start to occur.

This is How Coursera Competes Against Google and Facebook for the Best Talent Recruiting top talent for a startup is very challenging. If we have any chance of succeeding in attracting top tier talent to work with us we need a process. This article covers extensively the steps you need to put into place in order to do that.

Hustle and getting hired by a startup How do I get hired by a startup when I do not have technical skills? This is a question that I get a lot as well. I share the same sentiments with the author, if you really want the job; you have to be willing to provide value and earn it. The same goes with just about anything that you want to achieve, there will always be many obstacles and excuses; the difference is what you do about it.

The angel trap The world seems to be awash with angel investors these days. The startup euphoria has made the most conservative of investors look into this investment class. The problem is, most inexperienced angels do not have reference points to benchmark performance of this class. This post takes us through the thought process of an experienced angel and how he walks through the investment process.

The surprising secret about SMEs’ Churn If you lose customers as quickly or faster you gain them, eventually you will have to shut down your business. Customer churn is a very important metric that startups need to get better at tracking and rectifying. If the cost to acquire a customer is exceeding the total value that they provide, stop everything and re-evaluate. This article talks through this principle in great detail.

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!