What’s the best way to set goals?

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

Goals and objectives are not the story. The story of the company goes beyond quarterly or annual goals and gets to the hardcore question of why? Why should I join this company? Why should I be excited to work here? Why should I buy your product? Why should I invest in the company? Why is the world better off as a result of this company’s existence?

What’s the best way to make tough decisions?

David Frankel (Managing Partner at Founder Collective)
7 Deadly Distractions That Can Kill Your Business | Inc.com

Whenever a company strays from its core market, message or mission, the results can be devastating, particularly for small companies and startups. common causes… Waning confidence in current market position or pricing, overreaction to existing competitors or new, “hot” entrants in the market, sudden stagnation or rapid decline in growth, strategic partnerships with no clear metrics for success, pressure from investors or board members to change… (read more)

What’s the best way to create a good company culture?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Moments that clarify what your values really are | A Founder’s Notebook

Here’s an interesting exercise: Instead of making a list of the values you’d like your company to have, make a list of the 5 core values you observe in practice. If your hiring, firing and promotions reflect your true values, then these events become values and clarifying moments for people in your company.

What’s the best way to build a good company?

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Super successful companies – Sam Altman

They can explain the vision for the company in a few clear words. They generate revenue very early on in their lives. They keep expenses low. They are tough and calm. They make something a small number of users really love. They move fast.

What’s the best way to set goals?

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

Goals and objectives are not the story. The story of the company goes beyond quarterly or annual goals and gets to the hardcore question of why? Why should I join this company? Why should I be excited to work here? Why should I buy your product? Why should I invest in the company? Why is the world better off as a result of this company’s existence?

Charlie Munger (Vice Chairman of the Board of Berkshire Hathaway Inc)
The Tension Created By Stretch Goals

There are two lines of thought. A whole bunch of management gurus say you need BHAGs — bold, hairy, audacious goals. Then there’s another group that says that if you make the goals unreasonable enough, human nature being what it is, people will cheat. What people generally do is give people the unreasonable goal and tell them, “You can’t cheat. ” That is the American system in many places. I’ve got no answer to that tension. Low goals do cause lo… (read more)

Google (Organizing the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful)
Ten things we know to be true

We set ourselves goals we know we can’t reach yet, because we know that by stretching to meet them we can get further than we expected.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Lessons from Jeff Bezos: Set “audacious and inspirational” goals | A Founder’s Notebook

Set audacious and inspirational goals

Eric Barker (Founder at StubHub)
Is being busy the secret to happiness?

In general, then, low-to-moderate time pressure seems optimal for sustaining positive thoughts, feelings, and drives.

Eric Barker (Founder at StubHub)
How To Be Successful: 6 New Shortcuts Backed By Research

Perhaps most importantly, when you think 10x instead of 10%, you behave differently. Research shows when you set bolder, more audacious goals you work harder than when you’re reasonable. Subconsciously, we actually push ourselves harder when we’re going after bigger, loftier, harder goals. Research shows people who set higher goals end up outperforming their peers or themselves because they push themselves harder or because they force themselves … (read more)

Mike Perlis (President & CEO at Forbes Media)
Inside Forbes: With 50 Million Visitors, Here’s What’s Next For Our Editorial And Ad Models

Work for meaningful differences, not better sameness.

Ray Dalio (Chairman and Chief Investment Officer at Bridgewater Associates)
Principles

Great expectations create great capabilities. Don’t rule out a goal due to a superficial assessment of its attainability. Once you commit to a goal, it might take lots of thinking and many revisions to your plan over a considerable time period in order to finalize the design and do the tasks to achieve it. So you need to set goals without yet assessing whether or not you can achieve them.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
How to specify challenges and goals correctly | A Founder’s Notebook

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Relevant, and Time-bound. A good problem statement should be all of those things. For more on SMART, see the Wikipedia page. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/SMART_criteria

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Give up and go up goals

You will benefit when you tell lots of people your give up goals. Tell your friends when you want to give up overeating or binging or being a boor. Your friends will make it ever more difficult for you to feel good about backsliding.
On the other hand, the traditional wisdom is that you should tell very few people about your go up goals. Don’t tell them you intend to get a promotion, win the race or be elected prom king. That’s because even your… (read more)

What’s the best way to make tough decisions?

Sam Gerstenzang (Director of Product at Imgur)
Sam Gerstenzang – Seven things I learned in venture

The best way to become quickly knowledgeable is to find the right people and talk to them. There is no template for success, and no one knows what works. Big things growing really fast get really big, really fast. There is a huge advantage to being right early on.

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

Sunk Costs are time and money (and other resources) you have already spent on a project, investment, or some other effort. They have been sunk into the effort and most likely you cannot get them back.
The important thing about sunk costs is when it comes time to make a decision about the project or investment, you should NOT factor in the sunk costs in that decision. You should treat them as gone already and make the decision based on what is in… (read more)

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

Satisficing is a decision-making strategy or cognitive heuristic that entails searching through the available alternatives until an acceptability threshold is met.This is contrasted with optimal decision making, an approach that specifically attempts to find the best alternative available. I love the concept of satificing instead of optimizing. It is something I have been trying to adopt (changing behavior is hard) for close to twenty years now w… (read more)

Mike Maples Jr (Managing Partner @ FLOODGATE)
Ron Conway, Mike Maples Jr. – Angel Investing Revealed by Stanford eCorner | Free Listening on SoundCloud

The way I look at it, most decisions are either 50-50 or obvious and if its 49-51 it almost doesn’t almost doesn’t matter what you pick. Just pick one and execute it with brutal precision and you’ll be ok. When I flip a coin and it comes up heads and I wish it came up tails, I just turn it over and what tails says. If it comes up heads and I say ‘Oh I knew it all along I wanted it to be heads”, then I do what heads says. It’s surprising how you a… (read more)

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

[Follow your gut. ] At one point during the first few weeks of starting our company, I had a very strong gut feeling to change the way we were going to tackle the problem we saw (aka in tech lingo a “pivot”). But the three of us weren’t on the same page and after a couple hours of arguing back and forth, we came together as a team and decided that we would not go in the direction in which I was pushing. In hindsight, I wish I stood my ground mor… (read more)

Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot)
Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

An imperfect decision today is better than a perfect decision some day.

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

There is no shortcut around learning, you just have to learn it. Everything is harder than it looks

David Frankel (Managing Partner at Founder Collective)
7 Deadly Distractions That Can Kill Your Business | Inc.com

Whenever a company strays from its core market, message or mission, the results can be devastating, particularly for small companies and startups. common causes… Waning confidence in current market position or pricing, overreaction to existing competitors or new, “hot” entrants in the market, sudden stagnation or rapid decline in growth, strategic partnerships with no clear metrics for success, pressure from investors or board members to change… (read more)

What’s the best way to create a good company culture?

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

People are the reason companies fail. They can also ruin the culture. The wrong leader can cause dysfunction, they can cause fighting, they can cause people to quit as well. Always have a very low tolerance for under-performers. One thing you learn over time if you’re going to be successful is you need to have to courage to have the hard conversation to let someone go. We had a mantra, “Hire slowly, fire fast.” It serves us quite well.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

Mission. People are loyal to a mission. I’ve seen super talented people walk away from compensation packages 2-3x what they currently make because they believe in what they are working on and think it will make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. This is why investing in mission driven companies can produce great financial returns.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

In the Bay Area and NYC, your employees are constantly getting hammered to leave for more cash, more equity, more upside, more responsibility, and eventually it leads to them becoming mercenaries. It is incredibly hard to hold onto a team in the Bay Area and NYC. If you are building your company in Ljubljana, Waterloo, Des Moines, Pittsburgh, Detroit, or Indianapolis, you have a way better chance of building a company full of loyalists than if yo… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Moments that clarify what your values really are | A Founder’s Notebook

Here’s an interesting exercise: Instead of making a list of the values you’d like your company to have, make a list of the 5 core values you observe in practice. If your hiring, firing and promotions reflect your true values, then these events become values and clarifying moments for people in your company.

Caryn Marooney (VP Technology Communications at Facebook)
The Best PR Advice You’ve Never Heard – from Facebook’s Head of Tech Communications | First Round Review

To develop a compelling message, Marooney advises running it through the RIBS test: Relevant. Inevitable. Believable. Simple.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Loyalists vs Mercenaries – AVC

Teams come in all flavors. There are highly loyal teams that can withstand almost anything and remain steadfastly behind their leader. And there are teams that are entirely mercenary and will walk out without thinking twice about it. I once saw an entire team walk out on a founder. That company survived it, remarkably.

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

In addition to building a great product, if you want to be really successful, you also have to build a great company. So think a lot about your culture.

Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot)
Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

Once you start writing your culture down, a couple of surprising things will happen: 1) You’ll realize you got parts of it wrong (because people will tell you). 2) You’ll increase the chances of hiring for “culture fit” without falling into the trap of toxic homogeneity where you just hire people like yourself under the guise of “culture fit”.

Dick Costolo (Partner at Index Ventures, former CEO of Twitter)
Pando: What Phil Libin learned from Dick Costolo, Steve Ballmer, and Jerry Yang

“You can’t preserve the culture, if you try to preserve it then you’re locking it into place, it starts to stagnate,” Libin said Dick Costolo told him. Costolo explained that the CEO’s job is not to preserve the culture, it’s to evolve it intentionally in a certain direction.

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

Values matter. A lot. In a hypercompetitive world where technology eats at every advantage you have over time it is good to have unique and distinct values that you live as a company. That’s a form of differentiation that is not easily copied. It matters and is at the core of building great companies. The kind of companies I like to talk about when people ask me about my best investments.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What I Have Learned From Kickstarter – AVC

Maybe the most important lesson I have taken from Kickstarter is that you have to build your company in your own mold. There is no one right way to do it, as much as the advice giving pundits (me included) would tell you otherwise.

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

Mercenaries have no place in your company and your culture. Doubters are a bit different. You certainly don’t want to create a culture of “yes maam” in your company. So some doubting is healthy. But it should be out in the open. The doubts should be expressed upfront and they should be discussed and debated. But once the decisions have been made, everyone needs to get behind them. Ongoing doubting is not helpful to a culture.

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

So if you want to build a business that lasts, you need a big and long vision and you need to be a leader who can inspire the team to believe in the vision and to believe in you. You need to hire folks who will stick around for the long haul and you need to be open to the doubts and doubters. But if they keep doubting, you need to part company with them. Don’t hire mercanaries. They won’t work no matter how hard you try.

Scott Kurnit (Founder & CEO @ Keep)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Scott Kurnit – AVC

Many cultural imperatives are the same at every company. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write them down and socialize them, but come up with the 3 or 4 that make your company special, that make someone want to join your company… or not. Your people ARE your culture. The culture quickly takes on a life of its own.

Scott Kurnit (Founder & CEO @ Keep)
MBA Mondays: Guest Post From Scott Kurnit – AVC

Culture was extra important to the About model since our business needed to get big fast, but it also showed me that defining a culture sooner than later builds the best business foundation. It seems so obvious, but out of 150 start-up CEOs I’ve discussed this with I found only three who pre-determined their culture. That’s crazy!

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Who is us?

Who is us?
When you build a tribe or a movement, you’re asking people to join you.
To become, “one of us.”
That means, though, you need to be really clear who ‘us’ is. Not just who am I joining, but what does it mean to be one of you?

Peter Thiel (Co-Founder & Partner at Founders Fund)
Contently Founder Shane Snow ’10JRN Interviews Peter Thiel – YouTube

One of the things I’ve heard, I don’t know if its true is — If you have three really good friends at the company you’re working at, you’re likely to stay indefinitely. If you have zero good friends at the company you’re working at, you’re at high risk of turnover.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
How to Minimize Politics in Your Company – Ben’s Blog

Build strict processes for potentially political issues and do not deviate—Certain activities attract political behavior. These activities include: (1) Performance evaluation and compensation (2) Organizational design and territory (3) Promotions

What’s the best way to build a good company?

Brad Feld (Managing Director at Foundry Group)
The Long Lost Myth of Capital Efficiency – Feld Thoughts

When a company can become cash flow positive on a small amount of capital (say $5m – $10m) and grow over 100% year-over-year without raising another nickel of equity, well that’s a silent killer.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why capital efficiency is critical for SaaS and subscription businesses | A Founder’s Notebook

Capital efficiency gives you time, which is critical for businesses that scale steadily but without viral growth, such as SaaS and subscription businesses.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Super successful companies – Sam Altman

They can explain the vision for the company in a few clear words. They generate revenue very early on in their lives. They keep expenses low. They are tough and calm. They make something a small number of users really love. They move fast.

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

As success drives the need to hire new engineers at a rapid rate, companies neglect to train the new engineers properly. As the engineers are assigned tasks, they figure out how to complete them as best they can. Often this means replicating existing facilities in the architecture, which lead to inconsistencies in the user experience, performance problems, and a general mess

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

The main problem is that companies stop doing what they were doing during YC instead of relentlessly focusing on building a great product and growing, they focus on everything else. In general, startups get distracted by fake work. Two particularly bad cases are raising money and getting personal press. But the list of fake work is long.

Mark Zuckerberg (Founder & Chairman & CEO at Facebook)
How To Get Ahead: Entrepreneurial Lessons From Mark Zuckerberg

The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good team. And that’s what I spend all my time on… I spend probably 25 percent of my time recruiting, finding good people, both outside the company and inside the company, to put them in more impactful roles.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
The three steps to building a great company, and why most startups fail on the first step | A Founder’s Notebook

Task #1: Build a product that users love. Task #2: Figure out how you are going to grow. Task #3: Make sure you are going to stay a winner if you win. [Are the three tasks sequential? In other words, should you figure out growth only after you’ve finished building a product that users love? I think there’s overlap, but broadly speaking — yes, they’re sequential. ]

Dharmesh Shah (Co-founder and CTO of HubSpot)
Happy Birthday HubSpot! 9 Lessons From Our First 9 Years

As a startup, you need to seek that love. We don’t just want people to buy from us. We want people to love us. We want them to love what we love and respect what we do, even if they don’t buy from us. Even if they are unlikely to ever buy from us. Because what we believe is that the more people that love us, and want us to succeed, the more likely we are to do so.

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

And I replied that building a great company is a combination of patience and impatience in equal doses applied unevenly. Impatient short term, patient long term.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Beating the Averages

If you do everything the way the average startup does it, you should expect average performance. The problem here is, average performance means that you’ll go out of business. The survival rate for startups is way less than fifty percent. So if you’re running a startup, you had better be doing something odd. If not, you’re in trouble.

Tomasz Tunguz (Partner at Redpoint Ventures)
Why the Bubble Question Doesn’t Matter

1. Think long term 2. Manage your cash effectively 3. Only hire the right people 4. Mitigate churn 5. Raise capital opportunistically to amass a war-chest large enough to achieve your vision