All the difference in the world

  1. I am reading “Dear Founder“, a great collection of letters for founders by Maynard Webb, a famous investor and board member who spent years working with the best companies and founders in Silicon Valley. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years ago at Vertex Ventures.
  2. A friend of mine just posted this on Facebook. There is no better way to express it. I copied it here.
  3. A few weeks ago a young entrepreneur asked me “Who should I hire in my company in the early days?

All of them are connected to one crucial thing I learned the hard way. Continue reading

Chaos Monkey

I am close to the end of Chaos Monkey. If you want to understand more about Silicon Valley and how venture-backed startups work, this is the perfect introduction. Do not expect something unbiased: like every entrepreneur, Antonio went through several critical moments and tries to describe rules and problems that are common in the Bay Area for early stage startups that go through fund raising and acquisitions.

I particularly appreciated the insights on the early days of Facebook.

 

How to find out in an interview if someone is a giver or a taker

A Founder's Notebook

Edited excerpt from 1 Interview Question That Cuts Through the BS to Reveal Someone’s True Character by Betsy Mikel:

Organizational psychologist Adam Grant says that the more often people help each other, the better the organization does. To create a culture of helping, you need to hire the givers, not the takers. However, just because someone is agreeable doesn’t mean they’re a giver — there are plenty of agreeable takers and disagreeable givers in this world. To find out whether someone is a giver or taker, irrespective of how agreeable they are, ask:

Can you give me the names of four people whose careers you have fundamentally improved?

The takers will give you the names of four people who have more influence than they do. They care more about influence than they do about helping. The givers will give you the names of four people you’ve likely never heard of, who are equal…

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[Podcast] There is always a way forward

 

Yesterday while driving to our Swiss office I listened to this podcast on Stanford eCorner. I didn’t know Matthew before. Brilliant entrepreneur and engineer. Besides talking about his entrepreneurial adventures, Matthew brings up about a few points and key lessons that only now I understand, unfortunately.

  • Why you should raise VC money at the very beginning of your journey. Not 100% in agreement with raising VC money at the beginning (bootstrapping is the way!) but I see his point about dilution and it’s smart.
  • On Silicon Valley’s big names in your board/network. They will be not so powerful while you focus on building a business. Sometimes they are just a big distraction. I understood this way too late and even today I struggle communicating this to other people.
  • Building companies and being a founder/CEO, a lonely job where taking care of your mental health is 99% of the game. Very true and sad.

On Tesla, Elon Musk and the entrepreneurship model

I just started reading the biography of Elon Musk, founder of Tesla, SpaceX and SolarCity. It’s a book I wouldn’t start without a great review like this one. The story is similar to the one of many other successful entrepreneurs but somehow all of them keep me thinking about how useless it is to look at them as a model. People became more and more passionate about this type of books and stories, but the reality is that Elon, like Steve Jobs, and many others, has been influenced by a specific path, a specific youth and a set of experiences you can’t replicate or follow to reach the same destination.

It’s not really the point of reading such a book, but more and more people, specially in Silicon Valley, usually look at these people as examples and models – something they should follow and try to imitate. They are great, no doubts, but you cannot take them as models, as you cannot do it with the majority of entrepreneurs. It’s mostly about their story and their struggles and that’s how they usually end up in something not common for 99% of the rest of us.