What’s the best way to keep productivity high?

Unknown (who knows!?)
Working With McKinsey: What Is the “Obligation to Dissent” at McKinsey?

[At McKinsey] If your boss knows that you disagree with something, you will be reminded of your “obligation to dissent“. The “obligation” comes from the fact that at McKinsey, voicing your dissent is not optional, it is required.

What’s the best way to give feedback?

Unknown (who knows!?)
How to listen without judging — a guide for managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Judge the outcome, not the person. If someone delivers a sub-standard result, then I try to see it as a function of the strategy being wrong or the execution being wrong, but not the person being bad at it. Part of the mentorship challenge is figuring out what motivates the person. Some people respond well to a harsh critique – it shakes them up and gets them focused on really improving. For me, as a worker, earned praise is a really awesome psy… (read more)

What’s the best way to create your business model?

Unknown (who knows!?)
Wensing, M. – The Anatomy of Profitable Freemium

Using a free car analogy, the kinds of premium value (types of freemium) include: Cargo Freemium (Examples: Dropbox, iCloud), Airbag Freemium (Example: WordPress, Red Hat), Bomb Freemium (Example: Yammer, Salesforce to a lesser extent), Cruise Control Freemium (Example: GitHub), and Bells & Whistles Freemium (lots of examples).

What’s the best way to be an effective leader?

Unknown (who knows!?)
The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies

The secret to success in business and in life is to never, ever, ever tell a lie. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

What’s the best way to keep productivity high?

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup advice, briefly – Sam Altman

Be decisive and act quickly. Instead of thinking about making a decision over the course of week, think about making it in an hour, and getting it done in the next hour.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Startups in 13 Sentences

Don’t get demoralized. Though the immediate cause of death in a startup tends to be running out of money, the underlying cause is usually lack of focus. Either the company is run by stupid people (which can’t be fixed with advice) or the people are smart but got demoralized.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The problem with collaboration, and why goals should have single “owners” | A Founder’s Notebook

Maximize what you can get done on your own. Before you ask for help from others, get as far along as possible on your own. Identify the key person you need to collaborate with, and don’t involve anyone else. Be explicit about what you need from people. Minimize your “ask” of other people’s time

Ron Friedman (Founder of ignite80, Social Psychologist)
The Collaboration Paradox: Why Working Together Often Yields Weaker Results

Collaborations breed false confidence. A study in Psychological Science found that when we work with others to reach a decision, we become overly confident in the accuracy of our collective thinking. Collaborations introduce pressures to conform. Studies show that group members tend to conform toward the majority view, even in cases when they know the majority view is wrong. Collaborations promote laziness. Ever been to a meeting where you’re the… (read more)

Adam Grant (Wharton professor, NYT writer)
9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity

Top performers, Grant argues, avoid saying yes to every helping opportunity. Instead, they specialize in one or two forms of helping that they genuinely enjoy and excel at uniquely.

Unknown (who knows!?)
Working With McKinsey: What Is the “Obligation to Dissent” at McKinsey?

[At McKinsey] If your boss knows that you disagree with something, you will be reminded of your “obligation to dissent“. The “obligation” comes from the fact that at McKinsey, voicing your dissent is not optional, it is required.

James Whittaker (Dintinguished Engineer and Technical Evangelist at Microsoft)
The Anti Meeting Culture | JW on Tech

Build an anti-meeting culture within your organization. Every meeting is useless until proven otherwise. Meeting organizers need to be put on notice: make this meeting meaningful, it’s your job.

Adam Grant (Wharton professor, NYT writer)
9 Productivity Tips from People Who Write About Productivity

Intentionally leave important tasks incomplete. We often race to finish assignments quickly so that we can move on to the next item on our list. [There is a] human tendency to ruminate over unfinished tasks, otherwise known as the Zeigarnick Effect. If you start a project and leave it unfinished, you’re bound to think about it more frequently than after it’s done. Instead of aiming to complete important tasks in one sitting, try leaving them inco… (read more)

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Economic Inequality

One of the most important principles in Silicon Valley is that “you make what you measure. ” It means that if you pick some number to focus on, it will tend to improve, but that you have to choose the right number, because only the one you choose will improve

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
The difference between a great company and a lousy company | A Founder’s Notebook

In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. In a poor organization, people spend much of their time fighting organizational boundaries, infighting, and broken processes. They are not even clear on what their jobs are, so there is no way to know if they are getting the job done or not.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The difference between a great company and a lousy company | A Founder’s Notebook

How do you ensure that if people get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally? Define clear goals; identify levers to achieve those goals; appoint owners; measure results

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Limiting decision fatigue | A Founder’s Notebook

Limit decision fatigue. In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. For instance, judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to delega… (read more)

Tony Schwartz (CEO of The Energy Project)
The Power of Stepping Back

Its not possible to race between meetings and e-mail all day long, and simultaneously reflect on what all this frenzied activity is accomplishing. [I] offer all of our employees the opportunity to take time away from the office, simply for reflection. All I ask is that they come back afterward and share with their colleagues, in some form, whatever insights they’ve had.

Mark Suster (Managing Partner at Upfront Ventures)
Do Less. More. | Bothsides of the Table

Success often comes from doing a few things extraordinarily well and noticeably better than the competition and is measured in customer feedback, product engagement, growth in usage and ultimately in revenue growth. Do less. And do the things that you ARE doing better and with higher quality. Have a shorter to-do list with more things that are in the “done” category.

Lew Cirne (Founder & CEO at New Relic)
Six chairs for an ideal meeting

One of the things I do on a quarterly basis is to review the standing meetings on my calendar, and every one of them ought to be able defend itself. The point is not to keep going to that meeting just because you always have to go. I think it’s a great practice to say, “OK, we meet every Thursday on this. Does it have to be these people every Thursday? Why?”

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Avoiding mediocrity by showing “tough love” | A Founder’s Notebook

Avoid mediocrity by showing “tough love”

Matt Blumberg (Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman @ Return Path)
The Management Team – Guest Post From Matt Blumberg – AVC

We consistently work at improving our management skills. We have a strong culture of 360 feedback, development plans, coaching, and post mortems on major incidents, both as individuals and as a senior team

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Nature Of The Firm and Work Markets – AVC

In The Nature Of The Firm, Coase investigates why “individuals choose to form partnerships, companies and other business entities rather than trading bilaterally through contracts on a market.” Coase argues that transaction costs that make “trading bilaterally through contracts” expensive spur the organization of firms. And if those transaction costs could be eliminated, more individuals would choose to trade with each other rather than forming p… (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Paying the smart phone tax

Like most things that are taxed, smart phones are often worth it, creating connections and giving us information when we need it. Perhaps, though, turning our phones off for six hours a day would be a useful way to cornering us into creating work we can’t live without.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Focus – AVC

Many entrepreneurs and CEOs misjudge how many things they and their team can do well. It is always less than you think. I once was involved in a 75 employee company that was in three different businesses. It took a difficult financing to convince the CEO to exit two of those businesses, but it was the best move that company made. The next three years were a time of explosive growth for that company.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Startups in 13 Sentences

You make what you measure. Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it. If you want to make your user numbers go up, put a big piece of paper on your wall and every day plot the number of users

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Startups in 13 Sentences

Avoid distractions. Nothing kills startups like distractions. The worst type are those that pay money: day jobs, consulting, profitable side-projects. The startup may have more long-term potential, but you’ll always interrupt working on it to answer calls from people paying you now. Paradoxically, fundraising is this type of distraction, so try to minimize that too

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
The Post-YC Slump – Sam Altman

Work on real work. Stay focused on building a product your users love and hitting your growth targets. Try to have a board and peers who will make you hold yourself accountable. Make the mistake of focusing too much on what matters most, not too little, and relentlessly protect your time from everything else.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
How things get done – Sam Altman

A combination of focus and personal connections. Charlie Rose said this to Paul Graham, who told it to me. The Y Combinator version of focus is write code and talk to users. On the personal relationships part, most people eventually realize its hard to do really good things by yourself.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

A surprising amount of our advice at YC is of the form just ask them or just do it. First-time founders think there must be some secret for when you need something from someone or you want to do some new thing. Just be direct, be willing to ask for what you want, and don’t be a jerk.

Joel Spolsky (CEO @ Stack Exchange)
Software Inventory – Joel on Software

In between each of these stages, inventory can pile up. For example, when a programmer finishes implementing their code (stage 3) they give it to a tester to check (stage 4). At any given time, there is a certain amount of code waiting to be tested. That code is inventory.
The “cost” of code inventory is huge.

Matt Blumberg (Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer & Chairman @ Return Path)
The Management Team – Guest Post From Matt Blumberg – AVC

We learn from the successes and failures of others whenever possible. My team regularly engages as individuals in rigorous external benchmarking to understand how peers at other companies – preferably ones either like us or larger – operate. We methodically pick benchmarking candidates.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Prep, spec, fit and finish

Dinner at a fine restaurant is mostly cleaning, chopping, mise en place and service, not the part we see on the plate itself. And yet… We often get confused about which part is important, which is worth our time, which is the point of the exercise. Without a doubt, if the thing we built isn’t of high quality, don’t bother. But it turns out that all the other parts, the parts that we think might be beneath us, it’s those that matter the most. W… (read more)

Mitchell Harper (Co-Founder & Board Member @ Bigcommerce)
28 things I’d do differently next time around — Medium

Fire fast and be less forgiving of mistakes, especially in departments that are measured with raw numbers, like sales and marketing

Ben Erez (Product at Breeze)
22 Mistakes I Made as a First Time Founder — Viabilify

In the process of building a startup, I found myself thinking sometimes about the long term vision and how what I was doing on a given day fed into the 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year vision. This was an inevitable result of all the stories you hear about people spending years building something before they “make it”. The problem with that long-term thinking is that it takes you out of the present and guess what? The present is the only place where … (read more)

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
16 product things I learned at Imgur — Medium

Find the one thing you need to get right and spend most of your time on it. You can screw up basically everything else.

Ron Friedman (Founder of ignite80, Social Psychologist)
How to Spend the First 10 Minutes of Your Day

Ask yourself this question the moment you sit at your desk: The day is over and I am leaving the office with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. What have I achieved?

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
How many hours per week should you work to maximize your impact? | A Founder’s Notebook

Conventional business wisdom is that there’s a positive correlation between long work hours and employee productivity. Instead, the opposite is true. It’s now known that long work hours reduce creativity by decreasing the amount of waking hours when the mind is at rest.

Shane Parrish (Curator of the popular Farnam Street Blog)
9 Habits You Need to Stop Now

Do not answer phone calls from people you don’t know. Do not e-mail first thing in the morning or last thing at night. Do not check email constantly. Do not work more to fix being too busy. Do not expect work to fill a void that non-work relationships and activities should.

Peter Nixey (Founder at Copyin)
Peter Nixey – The most important question in a startup: Am I…

As you put jobs into your daily to-do list, ask yourself: “is this proactive or reactive”? If it’s the former and it’s “tangible, fail-able and do-able” then it’s probably an excellent task.

What’s the best way to give feedback?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The “incredible beauty” of mistakes | A Founder’s Notebook

The key is to ascribe mistakes and problems to weaknesses in a process, not to personal failings. The mistake is therefore a gift — it exposed a weakness in your underlying process which you can now fix.

Ben Foster (Currently advising 10+ companies, 16 yrs PM/UX experience, VP Product at Opower, PM at eBay)
What’s the recipe for invention? – PM Rant

No is not a complete answer; a complete answer is, yes, if only we had “fill in the blank”. You’d be amazed how often simply stating what would make things easier can do for relationships, for earning trust, for identifying root issues, and most importantly for driving innovation.

Unknown (who knows!?)
How to listen without judging — a guide for managers | A Founder’s Notebook

Judge the outcome, not the person. If someone delivers a sub-standard result, then I try to see it as a function of the strategy being wrong or the execution being wrong, but not the person being bad at it. Part of the mentorship challenge is figuring out what motivates the person. Some people respond well to a harsh critique – it shakes them up and gets them focused on really improving. For me, as a worker, earned praise is a really awesome psy… (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Why Startups Should Train Their People – Ben’s Blog

If you don’t train your people, you establish no basis for performance management. As a result, performance management in your company will be sloppy and inconsistent.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals | A Founder’s Notebook

With the reviews I’m about to do now, I have different goals: 1) Listen. Ask broader questions than you get to ask in the course of a normal days work. 2) Congratulate. Step back, view the big picture, and congratulate someone for what they’ve achieved. 3) Focus. Once someone has chosen which company to work for, only one thing determines their success. In a review discussion, can you find ways to increase that?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Getting performance reviews right starts with clarity about the goals | A Founder’s Notebook

Mess ups like that clarified for me what I should NOT try to achieve with a performance review: Not for setting goals goal setting and tracking is too important to be left to a periodic review. Not for reporting on progress people should have clear metrics which they track themselves, so their achievements should be obvious without a review. Not for warning about underperformance if someone is underperforming, you should tell them immediately and… (read more)

Joanne Lipman (Chief Content Officer of Gannett)
Women at Work: A Guide for Men – WSJ

[5 Tips for Men Who Manage Women] 1. Don’t restrain yourself when giving feedback. 2. Actively include them in meetings. 3. Consider them for promotions even if they don’t ask. 4. Cut the cute talk — don’t talk condescendingly to women. 5. Understand that having kids doesn’t mean the end of ambition.

Eli Hoffmann (CEO at Seeking Alpha)
Eli Hoffmann (@EliHoffmann) | Twitter

[I say] Hey. You aren’t hitting your targets. I’m not sure what’s going wrong, but I need you to hit them. What I need from you is a game plan. What’s going to change that will get us back on track? You probably need some time to think about this. When should we meet again to review your game plan? Also, it’s important for you to know that I want you to succeed. If there’s anything I can do to make you more successful, let’s discuss that and I’ll… (read more)

Laszlo Bock (SVP of People Operations for Google)
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Nudging involves subtly changing the structure of the environment without limiting choice.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “When I want your opinion…”

As you get better at your job, people will ask for feedback. The most powerful feedback is based on data and experience. “Actually, no, we shouldn’t put the Crockpots on sale, because every time we run a promo our Crockpot sales have been dwindling, and anyway, the big online store still sells them for less than we do.”

These are facts, things we can look up and argue about whether they matter. It’s also interesting to get feedback based on test… (read more)

Robert Lakin (Business and Financial Communications Specialist, Formerly at McKinsey)
Working With McKinsey: How to give McKinsey-style feedback: The McKinsey Feedback Model

“When you did [X], it made me feel [Y]. In the future, I would recommend that you do [Z]”

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs – Ben’s Blog

When measuring results against objectives, start by making sure the objectives are correct. CEOs who excel at board management can “succeed” by setting objectives artificially low. Great CEOs who fail to pay attention to board management can “fail” by setting objectives too high.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How Andreessen Horowitz Evaluates CEOs – Ben’s Blog

CEOs should be evaluated against their company’s opportunity – not somebody else’s company. Hoping that VMWare can be as capital light as SolarWinds or trying to get Yelp to grow as fast as Twitter doesn’t make sense and can be quite destructive.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Taking To Dos and Moving Up The Y Axis – AVC

If you think about what you are trying to accomplish in a meeting with someone you are managing and you plot the following: one the x axis – whether you clearly communicated the issue to the person; on the y axis – whether they walk out of the meeting happy or mad at you. Dick’s point is you want to optimize for the x axis, clear and crisp communication, and not worry too much about the y axis.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How the “too nice” manager kills your career | A Founder’s Notebook

The “too nice” manager kills your career.

Seth Sternberg (CEO and Co-Founder at Meebo)
Seth’s Blog | Random thoughts about whatever

Set up a weekly meeting with you, the PM, the lead engineer and the lead designer. Don’t make these too frequent – twice a week at most early on in a product lifecycle. Probably no less than every 2 weeks for a more mature product. In these meetings, you have free reign to give very detailed feedback. You can get quite detailed. But then when the meeting’s over, it’s over. No drive-bys, no random comments. Wait for the next one

What’s the best way to create your business model?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Subscriptions – AVC

The big gotcha in subscription revenue models is churn. If you churn more than 10% of your customers every year, subscriptions can be a challenging model. You need to grow new customers at 10% just to stay even.

Unknown (who knows!?)
Wensing, M. – The Anatomy of Profitable Freemium

Using a free car analogy, the kinds of premium value (types of freemium) include: Cargo Freemium (Examples: Dropbox, iCloud), Airbag Freemium (Example: WordPress, Red Hat), Bomb Freemium (Example: Yammer, Salesforce to a lesser extent), Cruise Control Freemium (Example: GitHub), and Bells & Whistles Freemium (lots of examples).

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
You Are Working Too Hard And Not Getting Anywhere – AVC

The moral of this story is sometimes you have the right product but the wrong business model. Fixing the business model can fix the company. It certainly did in the case of TACODA.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Licensing – AVC

The only form of licensing that USV is actively investing around is the open source model. We think open source is an attractive form of licensing that creates network effects in the developer and user community and we have had success investing in the open source model.
That said, licensing is probably the least interesting business model to me of all the ones we are covering in this series. It is possible that entrepreneurs will invent new way… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Transaction Processing – AVC

For financial transactions, the fees are generally small, typically in the 2-4% range. For banking transactions, the fees are often much smaller than that because the credit and fraud risks are lower. For logistics (shipping and handling), the fees vary but relate to the costs of providing the service. For telephony, the fees are generally expressed per minute or per message and are generally low but can be high in certain markets. Platform dist… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Peer to Peer – AVC

The thing about peer networks is most of the value is created by the participants in the network. The business doesn’t do that much. It provides the basic infrastructure so that the market can work. It provides trust and safety and governance. And it provides customer service and support. The participants in the network do most everything else. That means these businesses can and should operate very efficiently at scale.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Subscriptions – AVC

The emergence of the subscription model has made the software business better. In the old upfront license fee model, software companies would trade at 2-4x revenues. Now they trade at 6-8x revenues. That reflects the recurring, almost annuity nature of the subscription model.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Commerce – AVC

Retailing is a tough business. The difference between what you buy the product for at wholesale and sell it at retail is called your gross margin. Amazon’s gross margin ranges between 20% and 25% depending on what time of year it is. The holiday quarter brings the lowest gross margins because retail makes up a larger perecent of revenues. At Amazon’s size, a 25% gross margin turns into a lot of money. But a smaller online retailer can really stru… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Advertising – AVC

I would break up advertising into two big buckets; ads that are sold and ads that are bought. The first is a relationship business, requires a direct salesforce or a salesforce that you can tap into, and will bring a higher revenue per impression in most cases. The latter is a data business, automated by machines and software, is a volume game and will bring a lower revenue per impression in most cases. Much of the online advertising market is mo… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: The Revenue Model Hackpad – AVC

I think six of them are truly definitive revenue model categories (advertising, commerce, subscription, transactions, licensing, and data). The other three (peer to peer, mobile, and gaming) could be folded into the first six since they mostly map to existing models (mobile ads are ads).

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Some Thoughts On The Louis CK “Experiment” – AVC

The business model of going direct to the fans is powerful, it has none of the negative issues of the existing business model (like fucking with the architecture of the net in a naive attempt to quell piracy) and is going to work bigtime.

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Sustainable growth is characterized by one simple rule: New customers come from the actions of past customers. There are four primary ways past customers drive sustainable growth: 1. Word of mouth. 2. As a side effect of product usage. 3. Through funded advertising. 4. Through repeat purchase or use.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: Revenue Models – Gaming – AVC

I have been waiting for non gaming web and mobile services to adopt the virtual goods model but have yet to see anything that feels like it is working really well. Virtual goods is another excellent implementation of the freemium approach to business model.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How To Be In Business Forever: Week Four – AVC

I went ahead and created a Business Model Canvas of my own using bmfiddle.com.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
A Lens Into The Future Of Enterprise Software – AVC

We know that “freemium SAAS” works well for horizontal enterprise applications like Dropbox, Slack, Google Apps, etc and I believe we will start seeing freemium SAAS models applied to vertical applications as well. We already are.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The First Law Of Internet Physics – AVC

many users * low arpu >>>> few users * high arpu

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
A Lens Into The Future Of Enterprise Software – AVC

I am seeing a bunch of new SAAS companies get started whose entire value proposition is building on the open APIs that most enterprise SAAS products have released in the past few years. If you are in finance, or HR, or marketing, or sales, you are now using a host of SAAS applications to get your job done and a big trend in the market is new applications that tie all of those together (via APIs) so that you can have a single view into your workfl… (read more)

Bill Gurley (General Partner at Benchmark Capital)
All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces | Above the Crowd | By Bill Gurley

Payment Flow. All things being equal, being part of the payment flow is superior to not being a part of the payment flow. This is due to the fact that it is much easier to extract reasonable economics when you are in the flow of payment. The supplier not only looks to you as a provider of revenue, but they receive that revenue “net of the fee.” Contrast this with a marketplace where you add value first, and then send a bill to the supplier at lat… (read more)

What’s the best way to compensate employees?

Philip Sugar (Founder & President @ SpringActive)
The Management Team – Guest Post From Phil Sugar – AVC

I am in charge of recruiting. I will have somebody managing the process as we grow; departments do the interviewing, but bottom line, if my people are better than your people I win. I go on as many sales calls and customer visits as I can. I’ve been told that once I hire a Head of Sales, I should stay out of the process. I totally disagree. The top producer makes more than the manager. If the only way people think they can make the most money… (read more)

Mitchell Harper (Co-Founder & Board Member @ Bigcommerce)
28 things I’d do differently next time around — Medium

Tie a good amount of everyone’s bonus to a customer success metric

Michael Mauboussin (Managing Director and Head of Global Financial Strategies at Credit Suisse)
Untangling Skill and Luck

Ideally, a compensation program pays an individual for his or her skillful contribution toward achieving a desirable objective. Compensation programs need to be modified so as to strip out as much randomness as possible.

Henry Ward (Founder & CEO at eShares)
eShares 101 — Medium

1. Compensation (salary + equity) is determined by the market for your skill set, and your skill level. That means there is no automatic annual raise of 2-4%. 2. Increase compensation by increasing marketability. 3. You will be marked-to-market at your 9-month anniversary and every 12 months thereafter. 4. We target being in the 75th percentile for your compensation.

Leo Polovets (General Partner @ Susa Ventures)
Analyzing AngelList Job Postings, Part 2: Salary and Equity Benchmarks · Coding VC

[from 2014] Assuming that a startup has two founders, here are some ballpark numbers for engineering job offers:

Salary:
For employee #1:
20th percentile salary range is $70k – $100k
50th percentile salary range is $80k – $120k
80th percentile salary range is $82k – $135k

For employees #2 through #13, salaries rise for higher paying jobs:
20th percentile salary range is $75k – $100k
50th percentile salary range is $85k – $125k
80th percentile s… (read more)

Unknown (who knows!?)
Explore Salary & Equity Data

https://angel.co/salaries has useful information to identify market rates

Aaron Patzer (Founder & CEO of Fountain, Mint)
Aaron Patzer lays bare Mint’s numbers – YouTube

My first engineer at Mint I paid $3,000/mo. That’s what I paid my second engineer as well. [They] got 2% and 1.5% equity. I hired my VP of Engineering who was [previously] making 180k for 90k but I gave him 4% equity.

Jeffrey Minch (Entrepreneur – ‎Littlefield Advisors)
The Management Team – Guest Post From JLM – AVC

A good comp plan includes: Salary; Benefits; Short term incentives (measurable performance based bonus); Long term incentives (equity); and something special (work from Colorado two weeks per year).

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Promote fast | A Founder’s Notebook

Promote fast. A simple litmus test for promoting someone is: Are there additional, meaningful responsibilities you want to give this person? If so, promote them. If not, don’t. And “promote fast” then means: Don’t be scared to throw extra responsibilities at capable people.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Titles and Promotions – Ben’s Blog

There are two schools of thought regarding this. Marc Andreessen argues that people ask for many things from a company: salary, bonus, stock options, span of control, and titles. Of those, title is by far the cheapest, so it makes sense to give the highest titles possible… If it makes people feel better, let them feel better. At Facebook, by contrast, Mark Zuckerberg… avoids accidentally giving new employees higher titles and positions than bette… (read more)

What’s the best way to be an effective leader?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Sixteen Years Ago – AVC

Relationships are the currency of business.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Success Has A Thousand Fathers – AVC

I have a couple rules that I try very hard to live by in this regard: 1- the management team always gets the credit. VCs don’t do the dirty work and should not get the accolades when things work out. 2 – don’t gloat. it’s not becoming. humility in times of great success is a very becoming characteristic. But it’s really hard to follow these rules when things work out well. Because success doesn’t come that often, and when it does, it has a th… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The minimum requirements for giving effective feedback | A Founder’s Notebook

Note that giving your team effective feedback is not the same as coaching them,

Adam Bryant (Corner Office columnist and Deputy Science editor at NYTimes)
Adam Bryant Of The New York Times On What Makes Great Leaders Great

One [characteristic of the best CEOs I’ve met] is what I call “passionate curiosity,” which is this relentless questioning mind that I see in so many of the leaders I interview. They are really deeply engaged with the world. They are curious about people, their back stories.

Adam Bryant (Corner Office columnist and Deputy Science editor at NYTimes)
Adam Bryant Of The New York Times On What Makes Great Leaders Great

There’s a quality [in great CEOs] that I call a “simple mindset,” which is the ability to take a lot of complicated information and really boil it down to the one or two or three things that really matter, and in a simple way, communicate that to people. They can figure out, “Here are the four metrics; these are the three or four things that we are going to focus on,” and do it in a way that not only makes sense for today, but is likely to make … (read more)

Jeff Jordan (General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz)
Leaving It All on the Field | Jeff Jordan

Periodic 360 feedback from the organization. If you ask people for feedback and typically respond to it in a constructive way, then they will typically give it to you. Working with a talented coach that I trusted. If world-class athletes like Tiger Woods utilized swing and strength coaches, why shouldn’t executives who aspired to improve use a management and leadership coach? Find a mentor or mentor(s). I eventually made the realization that I wa… (read more)

John W. Rogers (Executive Vice President, Chief of Staff & Secretary to the Board at Goldman Sachs)
A great teammate is a great listener

Become that rare person where people know that your word is your bond and you’re going to do exactly what you say you’re going to do.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Which is better: a CEO who tolerates mediocrity or one who throws tantrums? | A Founder’s Notebook

If I had to choose between a manager who tolerates mediocrity and a manager who throws “nutters”, I’d go for the manager who throws nutters any day. Why? Because the most successful companies are built by managers who strive for, and demand excellence. They care passionately about their product and company

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown – AVC

If you are a CEO and you are feeling that uneasy head right now, look around you. Do you have the support you need from your team and your board? If the answer is no, do something about it. Because you can’t be a great leader without a great support system.
And get a coach.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown – AVC

I also encourage CEOs to join a CEO support group. Meeting regularly with peer CEOs is a great way to vent with each other about the nonsense that goes on in a company, but it is also a great place to get actionable advice and learn from each other.

Ryan Howard (Founder @ Practice Fusion)
Transcript: Protecting yourself as the founder; Ryan Howard | VatorNews

Starting off, being a founder is obviously an incredibly hard job. Macro concerns from day-to-day are simply building your business, hiring a great team, fundraising to make payroll day to day and with that, the last thing you want to do is worry about getting fired from the company that you started. The reality is that, this is a quote from the founder of Sequioa, “45% of their founding CEOs and their investments are fired after 18 months.” It’s… (read more)

Scott Cook (Founder at Intuit)
Why Intuit Founder Scott Cook Wants You To Stop Listening To Your Boss | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

We teach our leaders that it’s your job to put in the systems that enable your people to run your experiments fast and cheap and to keep making them faster and cheaper. Yield as many of your decisions off to the experiment as possible.

Amir Elaguizy (CEO Cratejoy, YC Alumni)
58 things I learned at YC – Giftshop Scientist

Ask for help (rather than try to have all the answers)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Notes on Leadership – Ben’s Blog

The ability to articulate the vision. Can the leader articulate a vision that’s interesting, dynamic, and compelling? The right kind of ambition. Truly great leaders create an environment where the employees feel that the CEO cares much more about the employees than she cares about herself. The ability to achieve the vision. The final leg of our leadership stool is competence, pure and simple. If I buy into the vision and believe that the leader … (read more)

Brad Smith (President & Chief Executive Officer, Intuit)
Great managers ask great questions | A Founder’s Notebook

Lead With Questions Not Answers. The best leaders don’t need to have all of the answers. They surround themselves with great people, and ask the right questions. It’s not what you know. It’s the questions you ask that help you become a more effective and inspiring leader. The two greatest indicators of what we view as important are (1) how we spend our time and (2) the questions we ask.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Ideas spread inside a company due to positive energy; 8 ways to increase it | A Founder’s Notebook

At work, make time to connect with others as people. Do what you say you’re going to do. Make it bigger than your [personal interests]. Acknowledge the positives, not just the problems. Criticize ideas, not people. Be visibly and sincerely enthusiastic. Look for ways to allow others to contribute. Don’t let your expertise make others feel inferior.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

No first-time founder knows what he or she is doing. To the degree you understand that, and ask for help, you’ll be better off. It’s worth the time investment to learn to become a good leader and manager. The best way to do this is to find a mentor, reading books doesn’t seem to work as well.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startups, Role Models, Risk, and Y Combinator – Sam Altman

Here’s the secret: everyone starting a startup for the first time is scared, and everyone feels like a bit of an imposter. Even the most successful founders doubt themselves and their startups many times in the early days.

Semil Shah (General Partner at Haystack)
Sunday Conversation #1: Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital – Haywire

Great entrepreneurs have a motivation that runs so deep that it feels insatiable, and that is infectious. It lets other people around them have that motivation. I think there’s just a profound, deep, innate motivation. A lot of what happens after the fanfare of starting a company and hiring people is, “Why are we here, what’s the purpose, and why are we doing this?”

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Do everything you can not to attach your self esteem to your startup (you’ll fail, but try anyway). Do the best you can every day, then step back. Work in such a way that when the dust settles you can be proud of the choices you’ve made, regardless of the outcome.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Why We Prefer Founding CEOs – Ben’s Blog

We see three key ingredients to being a great innovator: comprehensive knowledge, moral authority, and total commitment to the long-term. Great founding CEOs tend to have all three and professional CEOs often lack them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The power of asking questions: What Warren Buffett asked Bill Gates | A Founder’s Notebook

Asking great questions is a skill, and often doesnt come naturally. Im particularly bad at it. So in discussions inside Seeking Alpha, I try to step back from making assertions, to articulating the question which the assertion was supposed to answer.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: A definition of a leader…

If you want to be a leader, go lead.

Jeffrey Minch (Entrepreneur – ‎Littlefield Advisors)
The Management Team – Guest Post From JLM – AVC

Get a mentor, a rabbi, a gray haired eminence who is willing to work with you. Golfers get swing coaches but great swing coaches work on the golfer’s head as much as his back swing. Get a professional coach.

Mitchell Harper (Co-Founder & Board Member @ Bigcommerce)
28 things I’d do differently next time around — Medium

Celebrate the good times but be brutally honest with everyone when things aren’t going well — and share your plan to get things back on track fast

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The irrational thing about trust

We use the most basic semiotics and personal interactions to choose where to place our trust. And once the trust is broken, there’s almost no amount of transparency that will help us change our mind.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: The irrational thing about trust

Real trust (even in our modern culture) doesn’t always come from divulging, from providing more transparency, but from the actions that people take (or that we think they take) before our eyes. It comes from people who show up before they have to, who help us when they think no one is watching. It comes from people and organizations that play a role that we need them to play.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “I”, “We” and “You”

Instead of saying “I” when you’re ready to take credit, try “we.” Instead of saying “we” when you’re avoiding responsibility, try “I.” And, every time you’re tempted to depersonalize the impact of your actions, try “you,” while looking the impacted person in the eye. Words matter.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Coercion

Real change happens because of enrollment, because it invites people in, it doesn’t use fear. Real leadership patiently changes the culture, engaging people in shared effort. It’s more difficult, but it’s change we can live with.

Unknown (who knows!?)
The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies

The secret to success in business and in life is to never, ever, ever tell a lie. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Leaders and Executives – AVC

Leadership is different than management. I have said that many times before on this blog and I will say it again. I believe it to be true. Leading is charisma, strength, communication, vision, listening, calm, connecting, trust, faith, and belief. Management is recruiting, retaining, delegating, deciding, communicating, and above all executing. Many CEOs do both for their companies. But getting leadership from the founder and management from a gr… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What Are We Doing? – AVC

What I am advocating for is the value of having a clear and intelligent plan, communicating it often and often, and, most importantly, mapping that plan to each team and each person in your organization. This is pretty easy when you are five people. It gets harder when you are fifty people. And it’s really hard when you are 500 people. The communication plan is very important particularly as the size of the company grows. And making it matter to … (read more)

Tony Schwartz (CEO of The Energy Project)
If you feel compelled to do something, don’t

If you’re a fighter, step back. If you tend to flee, stay engaged. I’ve found two sorts of reflection help most. “What part of this is my responsibility?” [and] “Who is the person I want to be in this situation?” Or even more specifically, “How would I behave here at my best?”

Robert Sutton (Founder and Research Director of The Network Roundtable)
Fight Like You’re Right, Listen Like You’re Wrong and Other Keys to Great Management | First Round Review

“After people talk to you, do they come away with more or less energy?”

Laura Hale Brockway (Director of Marketing Communications at Texas Medical Liability )
7 Tips to Help You Remember Names Better

Pay attention to the person’s name when it’s said. Say the name aloud as soon as possible. Comment on the name. Associate the name with something meaningful. Form a visual association between the face and the name. Keep looking at the person’s name tag or business card.

Yvon Chouinard (Founder of Patagonia)
Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman

Managers have short term vision, implement strategic plans, and keep things running as they always have. Leaders take risks, have long term vision, create the strategic plans, and instigate change.

Jeff Weiner (CEO at LinkedIn)
5 Leadership Lessons Learned from Jeff Weiner | Sachin Rekhi

It’s important to constantly repeat the team’s top objectives, the decisions that are being made, the culture you are trying to establish, and anything else you want the broad team to truly internalize. It’s equally important to drive consistency in the message, even using the exact same words to really ensure it sticks.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Dumbing Things Down – AVC

At some point you have to convince people that what you are doing is important and they should join your company, buy from your company, invest in your company, and write about your company. I like to call this “dumbing things down” but it doesn’t have to involve simplification (although that is one way to do it). It could also involve creating effective analogies, describing a future state where the technology is in mass use, or some other techn… (read more)

Geoffrey James (a contributing editor for Inc.com, is an author of the award-winning blog Sales Source)
All Great Entrepreneurs Have This | Inc.com

There is one thing and one thing alone that every great entrepreneur absolutely must possess: courage. It takes courage to forego the predictability of a corporate job. It takes courage to sacrifice your nest egg to your startup. It takes courage to take the risk of failure. And it takes courage — lots of it — to hand over the reins when your startup grows beyond your ability to manage it.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Confidence | A Founder’s Notebook

For me, confidence comes from thinking deeply about what we’re trying to achieve, and why that will benefit people. When you really believe in your vision, you’re confident — even when times are tough — that you’ll succeed.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
Jason M. Lemkin’s answer to How do CEOs stay calm? – Quora

1. You must fake it. You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control. Ever. Once they see that… they will lose faith. 2. You need help. If you don’t have true help carrying the load — stop. Do almost nothing else. Recruit someone. 3. You need a break. In fact, lots of them. 4. You need someone to confide in. At least one. 5. Once the business is real, self-sustaining — you need to take a real vacation. Not just a trip where you ema… (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Startup founder psychology: Between euphoria and terror | A Founder’s Notebook

[as a CEO] you only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances both of them.

Charlie O’Donnell (Partner Brooklyn Bridge Ventures)
How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Charlie O’Donnell | A Founder’s Notebook

1. Take care of your physical self. 2. Consider the worst case scenarios and have a plan for them. 3. Always try to do your best work, but know and accept your limits. 4. Try to think as linearly as possible. 5. Don’t accept other people’s timelines as your own. 6. Be extremely protective of your time. 7. Get an assistant. 8. Reverse engineer the life you want to live. 9. Let other people in. 10. Get rid of the people and relationships that drain… (read more)

Eric Barker (Founder at StubHub)
How To Never Get Angry: 3 New Secrets From Neuroscience

How can you control emotions of anger in yourself? Here’s how: 1) Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship. 2) Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself. 3) Reappraisal (changing the story you’re telling yourself about the event) is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day. ”