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Archive for December, 2016

Entrepreneurs: Post Seed with Marc

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

Marc

Vator’s Post Seed Conference last week in SF was another enormous hit for those who missed it. The consistently high level of speakers, content and relevancy of the information shared is what was perhaps the most salient take away. The open and frank candor of the discussion was also refreshing.

It’s a bit of a challenge to write this article because there is so much to communicate in a succinct way, but I’ll do what I can. While most of the content is geared to entrepreneurs, and some applies to both, I gave the info specifically for investors its own section at the end.

In the interest of brevity, most of what follows are generalized thoughts, bits and bytes summarizing points expressed during the meeting. My goal being to give you the most info succinctly as possible.

For starters, the cost of starting a business is way down. Now, it can be anywhere from 50-500K. So it’s a disruption in Venture. In the 90’s, it used to be 4 – 5M to start. In an early A round, proper sequencing of funding is important. As is being capital efficient. Be a contrarian. Because everybody bets on the consensus winner.

Raising a series A can be a crunch! 2009 was a peak. Rate of graduation from seed to A is less than 10%. It’s getting hard to get more seeding, although initial seed VC’s are plentiful. Getting to A round nevertheless remains difficult to very difficult.

Why post seed? More control. More optionality, more likely to supersize A, so stay lean to accomplish that.

Great Companies solve big problems and work at 2X the speed. Optimize processes. It’s about onboarding . The 15% of your best accounts pay for everything. Commit to winning. Great venture takes risks on non-traditional things.

Money is tightening. Less competition is good for choosing spaces. It’s going to be hard to raise the next round. Milestones are key. Corporate investing is currently very passive. In good part because in venture, you’re wrong 90% of the time.

There are 3 types of companies: 1) Bits to atoms – exp: Tesla. 2) Sticky bits – exp: Facebook. 3) Everything else is poo and a time suck.

Social media is modern feudalism. We do the work but don’t get paid. New media eliminated scarcity. There is no “Truthiness” in social media. A monetization formula dominates social media.

Hard things take time and are worthwhile. Everyone thinks everything happens in 2-4 years, it doesn’t. Be thoughtful about experimenting.

VALUATION MEANS NOTHING! Value it at zero until you go liquid. Less liquidity in last 5 years than ever.

There is more profit in hard businesses. Winning is about recruiting. It’s getting harder to be successful and get funding. Companies that produce the most with the fewest people and resources win.

Series A difficult to raise yet big successes still happen. Top 5 companies in the world are in tech. There is no certainty in raising funding.

Originality and how you tell your story is absolutely key. It is as important as anything. The product / story / solution has to sell itself. It’s a crowded angel and seed stage market.

Raising series A is hard. Seed round is much easier. Partner with seed investors who will help you with getting an A round. We’re in a tougher market. Spend as little as possible to get to market fit. Premature scaling is the main reason companies fail.

Book Recommendation written for the entrepreneur: Magic Box Paradigm A Framework for Startup Acquisitions. Startups wait too long to think about M&A. Acquisition isn’t an exit but an entrance. An entrepreneur’s narrative to a VC should be; “I’ve got everything figured out.” How do we fit into the direction of the acquiring company? Value only exists in the eyes of the buyer. Have a shared view.

You’re going downhill when they’re coming to you and uphill when you’re going to them.

Entrepreneur’s need passion to get through the tough times. You’ve got to love the customers you’re serving.

Remove friction to innovation. In biz, create more at-bats for yourself. When investments work, double down on them. Convince your customers who will then convince investors. Tell people what you’re going to do, then go do it. It’s the best way to get people on board. The #1 thing you’re selling is trust. Values and culture matter. Why do people continue to walk through the door? Add meaning to your company.

Bits for investors

The idea of 10 – 15 great co’s a year is not consistent with the data. There were a lot of great companies in a little period of time. 38% made greater than 10X in last 10 years. Market fit and momentum work together. Post seed is about data. Look at a company’s value creation. Listen, ask difficult questions. How do you define success?

Figure out what people are all about. It’s more about how a company is performing rather than a funding round. Do you really click with the founder?

Liking the CEO is of paramount importance. Do they have high EQ? Empathy is critical. The ability to see forward from multiple perspectives. Are they ambitious and bold? Are they willing to try at what has been failed many times before. On the other end is founder drama which is a huge killer.

Look for problems when thinking about what company to invest in. What’s on demand? Realize 6 – 10 years equals how long until a market gets created.

The above is just a smattering of the shared wisdom from the conference and proof positive why attending future Vator events is well worth while. Not only for the insights, but also for an incredible networking opportunity that is far above most others, not to mention engaging, fun time well spent.

December Leadership Development Carnival

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

leadership-carnival-5-300x134Can you believe it? Blink three times and the year disappears. Hopefully, you’ve learned a lot this year and grown in many ways. Now choose the posts from this month’s carnival that will add an edge to what you’ve already learned.

Verity Creedy writes I Believe I Can Fly: Leadership that Inspires Innovation
Learn the three conditions that we as leaders should be setting for our teams to create and execute innovative change.
Follow Verity on Twitter: @VerityDDI

Julie Winkle Giulioni shares “Not My Decision”: Constructive Responses to Workplace Decisions You Wouldn’t Have Made
Last week, many Americans had a profound experience of what employees encounter routinely on the job: responding to a decision they don’t support but must still live with. In organizations worldwide, strategies are set, markets are selected, tactics are identified…and not everyone agrees with the direction. When confronted with these situations, it’s easy for employees to feel powerless and out of control. Yet no matter the issue or the organizational level (of those deciding or those following in the wake of the decision), what remains well within each individual’s control is how he or she responds.
Follow Julie on Twitter: @julie_wg

Julie Baron wrote How to Prevent Leadership Derailment
You made it to the leadership position you have been striving for, but what must you do to avoid derailment? Learn the derailment behaviors and traits witnessed by business leaders in corporate catering, industrial distribution, construction, web design, HR technology, gift giving, marketing, and structural engineering.
Follow Julie on Twitter: @commwrks

Dana Theus shares What to Do If You’re Worried About Getting Laid Off
Dealing with the dread of being laid off can be a gift in disguise. Use the possibility of a layoff to get proactive about your career and personal brand.
Follow Dana on Twitter: @DanaTheus

JesseLyn Stoner writes How to Talk about Politics at Work
How do you talk about politics with people whose views are different than your own? It’s not a good idea to assume that everyone agrees with your views. One thing the U.S. elections showed was that what people say and what they actually believe are not always the same. And it also showed that we need to reach across the divide and try to understand what’s really driving each other. Here are six guidelines that will help your conversations be more informative and productive.
Follow Jesse Lyn on Twitter: @JesseLynStoner

Randy Conley shares 6 Strategies for Leading When People Won’t Follow
Leadership is tough enough when things are going well, much less when people are resisting your leadership. In this post, Randy Conley shares six practical strategies leaders can use to help them deal with team members who won’t follow their lead.
Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyConley

Mary Jo Asmus wrote Your Discomfort is Whispering to You
The discomfort you feel is normal and the tendency to avoid difficult conversations is common. Listen to your gut – it’s telling you that it’s time for you to step into that uneasiness and be a leader. This post provides practical advice on where to begin.
Follow Mary Jo on Twitter: @mjasmus

David M. Dye shares Why Do So Many Leaders Suck?
Perhaps the most common question David is asked after he shares Winning Well leadership tools is: “If this works, why are there so many lousy leaders?” In this article, David shares ten reasons leaders run into problems and how you can avoid falling into the same traps.
Follow David on Twitter: @davidmdye

Tanveer Naseer writes 3 Important Lessons Leaders Can Learn From Success
Three important lessons leaders can learn from success that will help them inspire and motivate employees to bring their best efforts over the long run.
Follow Tanveer on Twitter: @TanveerNaseer

Jon Mertz shares The Coming Day After
Regardless of your feelings about our most recent election cycle, we must all work together to end the divisiveness, stalemate, and finger-pointing. No matter our segment, our status, or our role, we must dig deeper, resolve challenges, and renew our greater purpose.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @ThinDifference

Anne Perschel wrote Your Leadership Megaphone Instruction Manual
Your leadership megaphone comes with the role, and it’s always on. People use it to broadcast what they THINK you said, and the results are not always what you intended. This instruction manual will help you use your megaphone wisely.
Follow Anne on Twitter: @bizshrink

Michael Stallard shares What Mayo Clinic Discovered About Burnout
Could something as simple as having a meal with colleagues to discuss work experience-related issues help reduce burnout? Michael Stallard explains what Mayo Clinic researchers found.
Follow Michael on Twitter: @michaelstallard

Wally Bock writes about Leadership Theology
Our discussions of leadership have begun to sound like theological debates.
Follow Wally on Twitter: @wallybock

Karin Hurt shares 7 Reasons to be a Little More Grateful at Work
Karin Hurt takes time to reflect on the things to be truly grateful for at work, and encourages us to do the same.
Follow Karin on Twitter: @letsgrowleaders

Chris Edmonds writes Culture Leadership Charge: The Weakest Link
Chris Edmonds continues his Culture Leadership Charge series with this discussion of the cost of tolerating selfish, competitive players in your culture.
Follow Chris on Twitter: @scedmonds

Shelley Row wrote Give the Gift of Attention: Three Steps You Can Take Today
Shelley gives us practical tips for sharing one of our greatest gifts with others—our attention.
Follow Shelley on Twitter: @shelleyrow

Jon Verbeck shares But I’m Not an Accountant! Why Every Business Owner Still Needs to Understand Basic Financial Statements
Jon Verbeck shares a down-to-earth explanation of the three most vital financial statements with which EVERY business owner should be familiar.
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonverbeck1

Beth Beutler wrote A Project Management Lesson from a 6-Year-Old
Beth shares some project management tips that were inspired by a 6-year-old tackling what could have been an overwhelming project of his own.
Follow Beth on Twitter: @bethbeutler

Joel Garfinkle covers How to Get Your Ideas Heard at Work
People have difficulty getting attention, let alone getting their ideas accepted and implemented. Here are three things that you could do right now to get your ideas heard at work.
Follow Joel on Twitter: @JoelGarfinkle

Susan Mazza shares How to Overcome the Tyranny of Your To Do List
To-do lists can easily transform from a useful tool to stay focused and productive to becoming an ever present reminder of all that you are not getting done. Even though you know not everything on that list is a “must do,” it is easy to get lost in the abundance of the “should do’s” that so easily pile up over time!
Follow Susan on Twitter: @SusanMazza

Neal Burgis writes Employees to Bring Ideas to the Table
Leaders need to rely and trust employees to use their creative thinking skills to generate ideas and produce results. Allowing room for your employee’s ideas helps leaders reduce supervisory control over the solutions to problems, challenges, and difficulties. The ideas employees put out generates various alternative solutions instead of one solution to what leaders want for their clients.
Follow Neal on Twitter: @exec_solutions

Mary Ila Ward shares HR Santa Clauses focus on the Employee Experience
This holiday season, HR and Talent Management leaders may need to consider a different approach on employee engagement. Mary Ila compares her real life experience of Christmas shopping for her children to how HR Santa Clauses focus on employee engagement. After all, maybe experience is what drives the engagement.
Follow Mary Ila on Twitter: @MaryIlaWard

John Hunter writes Add Constraints to Processes Carefully
Product and service design impacts the user experience. When the product is needlessly complicated and includes needless constraints it is the opposite of mistake-proofing, it is mistake-promoting.
Follow John on Twitter: @curiouscat_com

David Grossman covers The Top Reason People Resist Change and How to Best Address It
People resist being forced to change without their involvement. They don’t like change forced down their throats. People naturally resist being controlled and being uninvolved in decisions that affect them.
Hat tip to DDI World for hosting the December Carnival.

Golden Oldies: The Secret of Improving

Monday, December 5th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

The year is nearly over, so I thought I’d focus the next few weeks on personal growth.

The principle of I/O as applied to ourselves is frequently overlooked as we search role models, gurus and pundits in efforts to grow and  improve.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/findyoursearch/5034002771/Personal and professional growth is a major focus for most people—that’s one of the reasons you’re reading this blog.

We research, dissect, write, discuss, preach, teach, and study, all with the goal of improving ourselves.

No matter what you seek to learn/improve think of yourself as a computer.

Huh?

In computing, the term I/O refers to input, whatever is received by the system, and output, that which results from the processing.

Programmers know that the results coming out of the computer won’t be any better than the information given it and this phenomenon is known as “garbage in/garbage out.”

And there you have the secret.

No matter if it’s career-related, relationship-focused, personal-internal or something else, I/O applies to everything in life.

What comes out is a function of what you put in.

Blindly accepting everything offered by even the most brilliant source will result in garbage out at some point.

Learning/improving requires critical thinking on your part—no one person, past, present or future, has all the answers.

You need to evaluate the available information, take a bit from here and a bit from there, apply it to your situation and, like a computer, process it.

The result will be at least slightly different from what you started with, because you’ve added the flavor of your own life experiences, knowledge and MAP to the mix—and that’s good, it shouldn’t be an exact copy.

Because, as Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”

Flickr image credit: FindYourSearch

Entrepreneurs: Motivational ‘Duh’

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anchovypizza/4222126794/

Tuesday I commented on the ‘duh’ factor in relation to Amazon finally eliminated forced ranking reviews, AKA, rank and yank, recognizing that they did nothing to foster teamwork or improve retention.

Like I said, “duh.”

Today we have Facebook offering up another duh moment.

Facebook is trying to accommodate millennials and its younger predecessor by talking to each worker and figuring out how their individual skills can be used to make a more personalized career path, not something more traditional and cookie cutter-like.

Definitely duh.

I defy you to think of anyone who works at any job and any level who doesn’t prefer this approach.

Take a look at what turns on/off the so-called silver-tsunami  of Gen X and Boomers.

Millennials may walk faster than Gen X and Boomers when they don’t like the culture, but that, too, will change as they take on more responsibilities, such as kids, mortgages and aging parents

Whenever I hear how different the needs of millennials are compared to previous generations I’m reminded of these words from Socrates.

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Give it a rest.

You hire individuals and need to manage them as such.

So put away the cookie cutter and provide everyone, no matter their age, with an environment in which to grow and flourish and the tools needed to do it.

That’s your job in a nutshell.

Flickr image credit: David

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