I picked up The Founder’s Dilemmas: Anticipating and Avoiding the Pitfalls That Can Sink a Startup by Noam Wasserman after he spoke about it in the ETL speaker series at Stanford back in November (see my study notes of that week here). With all the regular school reading in parallel it took me 2 months and 2 vacation trips to dig through the material, but coming out on the other side it is a highly recommended read for anyone in the tech startup scene. Doesn’t matter if you’re just contemplating bootstrapping your first company or want to take a step-back look at the impact your term sheet demands as an investor can have on entrepreneurs on the receiving end.
Basically, what Noam has done is to take a whole sequence of inevitable dilemmas every founder has no way of escaping while building their startup, gone back to about 3k companies and 10k people and surveyed the hell out of them to quantify both the triggers as well as the indirect results down the road after they have made their choices on these issues so often just considered a “gut feeling thing”. Should I found a company now? Should I do it alone, with friends or strangers? What happens to my likely CEO tenure time if I take external money? What kind of side effects can different outcomes of horse trading over boards seats practically have? What are the hidden costs (and benefits) of hiring youth over experience, and vice versa?
Less than three months have passed since my summary post on Summer quarter. We are through all the coursework and more recently the Thanksgiving break, final exams, a holiday party and a quick North-Western study trip to Seattle. Time has come to close off Autumn and the 2012 calendar year with it.
Before it’s too late I’d like to apologize for the miserable alliteration attempt in the title. And I’d also really like to be able to skip the clichés like “time has just swooshed by” and “it feels like it was just yesterday!” but… it has and it does. We’re half through to graduation as Class of 2013 in June.
Stanford GSB Sloan Study Notes, Week 8-10 (18-20), Autumn quarter
Not to worry, despite of the three week scope in title this is not a monster-length post. Between a lovely wedding, an unexpected funeral and Thanksgiving break in between my focus has temporarily shifted a bit away from school as this quarter concludes. Do enjoy the little there is to share below – and as special gift to reader A.M., yes there are more videos.
A notable off campus educational highlight last week ago was an event at A16Z where William Janeway (being interviewed by Marc Andreessen on the photo above) discussed his book Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy: Markets, Speculation and the State. Combining his 40 years in venture capital with a PhD in Economics, Bill has great insights into when, how and where governments should play any role financing tech innovation and where progress should be left for markets. And as a curious subtopic – the need for an occasional bubbles in the latter case.
Covered further in this issue:
- How to avoid small groups polarizing towards extremes in debate
- Kõrvalmärkusena Eesti lugejaile: jah, teadus teemal Reformierakond VS Väike Grupp!
- Centralization VS distribution of control in global organizations
- More history of Presidential candidates screwing up in public
- Financial ratios and common size reports in accounting
- Effective networking tips’n’tricks exchange with Sloan classmates
- How computing changes human bodies and the definitions of creativity
- How big internet players have changed hardware IP value chain
The below are reading notes of some good old truths, new aha-s and pro tips from a pretty good concise communications guidebook called As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Make it Stick by Peter Meyers and Shann Nix. Mostly focussed on public speaking, especially to larger audiences – but touches upon other topics as well, such as small meeting settings, managing crisis communications, using comms & presentation technology and structuring 1:1 tough conversations.
The book was assigned as reading for a brief reflection essay in the Generative Leadership class at Stanford, but I would (and have already) recommended it as a no-brainer purchase for any manager to hand out to people on their team who need a little comms help. They’ll get through it in a few hours and be grateful for the few very tangible things they can implement the same day.