Benchmarks are great to tell you where you are compared to others. In venture capital, there are three common problems with benchmarks: History, math, and ego. 1. Benchmarks are History Benchmarks are backward looking. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Maybe market mechanics changed. Maybe the supply and demand of startup funding in … Continue reading The Pitfalls of Benchmarks.
[There are countless obvious lessons from Jocko's books and podcasts that apply to all people and all companies. Here are some insights that might be less obvious from the last #muster.] Some VCs talk about startups needing to be paranoid, with an obsessive attention to what is going on in the environment around them. I … Continue reading Jocko and Startups: Default Aggressive.
[There are countless obvious lessons from Jocko's books and podcasts that apply to all people and all companies. Here are some insights that might be less obvious from the last #muster.] As board members and VC investors, we often get asked: "What are your other companies and CEOs doing? Am I a good leader?" Most … Continue reading Jocko and Startups: Am I a good Leader?
I often ask entrepreneurs during pitches "What's hard to make this a successful company?" I am particular about this one. I am not asking "what's difficult." Difficult is fundraising, hiring great people, finding customers, making customers pay on time, getting renewals, opening a new office, etc. "What's Hard" is something that hopefully the entrepreneurs are better … Continue reading What’s Hard and What’s Not as a VC.
I talk a lot with very large enterprises in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Sometimes they have a question regarding their IT infrastructure, sometimes they want to hear about shifts in industry trends (few of them want to hear 'trends in the Silicon Valley,' thank god!). Sooner or later they tell me about their digital … Continue reading Digital Transformation Strategy — You Don’t Need One.
A quick reminder on social media basics: It used to be that you used Twitter for witty one-liners, quick comments, or something you found or #overheard. These were called "Tweets". Reminder for all C-level executives, politicians, or public figures: No more. You are making statements, not tweets. Tweets are cute and playful things, statements have weight: … Continue reading Quick Reminder: Tweets vs Statements.
I feel puzzled how vaguely some startup CEOs send their executives on their way to execute a "mission". Mission Statements describe the who, what, when, where, and why (the 5 W’s) of how a mission will be executed. A mission has one -- and only one! -- main goal. You might have one (one!) side … Continue reading Improve Your Mission Statements.
As VCs, we can voice observations, opinions, demands (which might or might not be met :)). We can assist, coach, or mentor the current CEO. But unless you are also a board director and -- together with all other board directors -- hire a new CEO, we cannot fix culture. Nicholas Pearce, on Dear HBR, … Continue reading VCs Can’t Fix Culture.
I remember one sentence from the many books I read while doing business in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia: Your relative power in a negotiation is your capacity to use resources to influence another’s circumstances. In 1962, Richard Emerson published Power-Dependence Relations. I found that Richard's focus on "In how many ways can I demonstrate my … Continue reading Negotiations: Focus on What You Don’t Know.
VCs are knowledge workers -- we convince our LPs that we know something worthwhile to justify our fees and carry we charge. There are two problems: The inherent intangibility of knowledge work; and the fact that liquidity events might take between five to nine years. You don't know if you were right until half a … Continue reading Stop Working.