10 October
In Silicon Valley, we cherish stories of great struggles, persisting failure, and grind-your-teeth kind of grit that eventually leads to great success. These stories are our collective folklore. Today, I want to highlight one of these stories. Amy Cuddy gave a TED talk on how body language shapes who we are and our career trajectories. Her story is insightful, motivational, and electrifying. First, Amy fascinates with scientific data on how body language impacts our careers.
09 October / startups
This week Amazon made public its advertising initiatives. Given the massive trove of invaluable purchasing data Amazon collects, I’m certain Amazon could build a rival to AdSense. But they aren’t. Below is a quote from an interview with Lisa Utzschneider, the head of Amazon Media Group: Q: Can you give us a sense of how important advertising is to Amazon? A: I think the way Jeff [Bezos] would answer that is, if we think about Amazon in two worlds, one world is an Amazon with ads and lower prices.
08 October / content marketing
Over the weekend, I analyzed my Twitter performance over the past 4 weeks. I wanted to determine what if any best practices I could tease from the data. Below are my four conclusions: The best time for me to tweet is 9am Pacific. On average, tweets at 9am generate 2.3 times the number of clicks as those in the 8am hour and 3.3 times those of the 12pm (lunch) hour. Below is a chart of number of clicks per tweet by hour of the day:
05 October
The payments ecosystem is complicated. But FastCompany constructed an illuminating diagram walking through a typical payments flow that I’ve copied here. Just look at all those steps! Simplifying this complexity is the opportunity for many startups like Stripe, Dwolla and others.
05 October
The flurry of media activity in entrepreneurship including the spate of new TV shows like X-Factor for tech and Shark Tank, the refocus of the NYTimes and WSJ on technology, and the number of entrepreneurs on mainstream magazine covers gave me the impression that entrepreneurship is on the rise. While this may be true in pockets like New York or California, entrepreneurship in the US is shrinking - at least according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and a report from the NYTimes: When Job Creation Engines Stop at Just One
04 October / best practices
Everyone is learning statistics because making sense of data is the difference between success and failure. R, the open source statistics language, is about a third as popular as Ruby and growing fast. Statistics are essential because data is ubiquitous and volumes are growing exponentially, even in startups. CEOs measure key company metrics. Engineers measure application performance and build machine learning models. Marketers measure campaign performance and reach. PMs measure engagement.
03 October
Over the last few months, I’ve been helping a few companies build hiring pipelines to recruit at nearly every experience level and for technical, sales and business development roles. Below are the lessons I’ve learned. Identify your ideal candidate If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. Narrow your search focus to find the right candidate. The easiest way to start is by building look-alike candidate lists.
02 October
Passion is not something you follow. It’s something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world. Follow a Career Passion? Let It Follow You In his book “So Good They Can’t Ignore You”, Cal Newport, a college classmate, champions the idea that passion lags work, instead of passion inspiring work. It’s the same philosophy embraced by sushi master Jiro, in the documentary “Jiro Dreams of Sushi.
30 September / best practices
Any number of challenges can arise during a startup’s initial years. Some of these changes could be major and may require rethinking strategy. Competitors enter your target market. New products are released into your market which undercut yours. Customer acquisition costs rise dramatically. If faced with these questions, it’s hard to know where to begin or how to structure an analysis to reach an answer. McKinsey uses a 6 step process to frame the process of answering these strategic questions which is profiled in this month’s Harvard Business Review.
26 September
Yesterday, I spoke at Columbia Business School. We had a conversation about the role of incubators and accelerators (or the moniker of your choice) within the startup ecosystem. Given the volume of first time entrepreneurs and the broad growth of interest in entrepreneurship, I think these programs are invaluable. To entrepreneurs, these programs offer up to seven value propositions, listed in order of importance, as I see it. Education - Examples include General Assembly runs a substantial education program and YCombinator operates Startup School and First Growth’s Venture Network Startup-in-a-box - TechStars offers legal help to incorporate a company, PR and marketing support for launch, banking partners, business development contacts, developer tools discounts all with the goal of eliminating as much friction as possible and helping founders focus on product/market fit discovery and execution.