Category: On Startups

The 4 questions you should stop asking during your one-on-one meetings

Claire Lew: Looking at the clock. Staring into the distance. Short, nondescript answers. A CEO recently told me how he’d frequently see this body language from an employee during their one-on-one meetings. Flat. Disinterested. Preoccupied. It felt lousy to witness, but it’d always been this way. He’d silently concluded that he was wasting both of their time. “I want to know what’s on his mind and how I can help, but these one-on-one meetings just aren’t working,” this CEO admitted to me. “I’m not really sure what to do except to stop having them.” To see if I could help,

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Ryan Holmes talks about the tech job no one talks about

Hootsuite’s Ryan Holmes: Mention “tech jobs” and thoughts typically turn to developers — the programmers and engineers who translate great ideas into working technology and keep the platforms we all use humming along. But the reality is that it’s impossible to scale and sustain most software platforms today without a highly capable, highly trained sales team. Indeed, at many of the most successful cloud software companies, the sales squads are just as big as the technical teams. I’ll repeat this for clarity: the current innovation boom hasn’t just created an outsized demand for IT pros; it’s created an equal — if not greater — demand for

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Learning by fixing

Learning by fixing

Drago Crnjac: Breaking things and fixing them again is one of the best ways to learn. I learned this lesson early, thanks to my younger sister and her Japanese robotic toy dog. Somehow, I convinced her to let me take apart her robodog so I could see how it works. “I’ll put it back together. Don’t be such a baby!” How wrong was I? It would probably have been easier to put back together a Volkswagen Beetle than this toy dog. There I was, sitting clueless on the floor, surrounded with plastic parts and electronics. My sister was crying and

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The Little Trade-Offs

Claire Lew: I was running a leadership training a few months ago, when a CEO said this to me… “I think I know why it’s so easy to become a bad manager, even when we don’t mean to be: It’s because of the little trade-offs.” I nodded and smiled. I knew exactly what he meant by “the little trade-offs.” I’d made so many myself as a leader, across my own career. The little trade-offs are the moments when we succumb to what feels most pressing in front of us, at the expense of what our company needs down the road

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Clark Kent’s shoes

Seth Godin: Back when Superman used to change into his outfit in a phone booth, the question was: where does he put Clark’s shoes? Because even if he could compress them with his super strength, they’d be ruined. Organizations that need to adopt different personas often get into trouble. On one hand, most of the time, they’re invisible. They’re a boring bureaucracy, optimized for stable jobs, predictable if not low-cost processes, mediocre customer service and average (or below average) user interface design. They’re a monopoly and they act like one. But then, when things break, they’re expected to act like

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3 Marketing Techniques Every Startup Must Master

3 Marketing Techniques Every Startup Must Master

Remember Pokémon GO? Of course you do because it was all you heard about for a few quick months in the summer of 2016. With millions of people downloading and playing the game, retailers and restaurants leapt at the opportunity to sponsor in-game experiences. Players flocked from location to location to virtually battle one another or to catch new Pokémon, and numerous companies were able to cash in on quick marketing wins. There’s a lesson here, though. It’s most likely been a while since Pokémon GO was part of a recent conversation. Chances are that businesses are also no longer

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Let's bury the hussle

Let’s bury the hussle

I love Gary Vaynerchuk dearly. So much of his message about patience and perseverance is completely in line with how I view the world. But I can’t take any more odes to “the hustle”. Like most banners, it either dies in obscurity or lives long enough to become perverted. In the early days, I chose to interpret “the hustle” as a way for those with very little to outsmart those with a lot through clever steps. Finding leverage where you had none. Doing things that weren’t supposed to scale or even work, and making it happen. But even if my

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Before You Launch A Startup, Learn This

Nathan Kontny: My 2011 startup with Y Combinator imploded, largely because we couldn’t get enough traction. What was I going to do next? And more importantly, how was I going to avoid repeating my mistakes? [..] It’s happened for me. I went from that miserable failure of a startup to realizing I needed to get better at audience building before my next venture. And so I practiced my craft of writing and storytelling on my blog. One article a week. Tell a good story. Me or someone else figuring out some problem through some conflict. My audience grew. Source: https://m.signalvnoise.com/my-2011-startup-with-y-combinator-imploded-largely-because-we-couldnt-get-enough-traction-d900976d7bbc

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How To Build A More Candid Think Tank Culture At Work

When was the last time you got completely unfiltered feedback? Do you dread presenting your big projects to your team because you fear their harsh critique? With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to play it safe rather than to take a risk. The problem is, playing it safe leads to work that’s average at best. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Research into feedback abounds, and countless companies are stepping forward to share what works for them. Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar and the author of Creativity, Inc., introduced the concept

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Excuses, excuses

Claire Lew: I was on the phone with a CEO the other week. He wanted my advice for how he could cultivate a more open, transparent company culture for his team. This CEO seemed to be already doing a lot of the right things. He held monthly all-hands meetings to get everyone on the same page. He also regularly asked questions to his employees about what could be better in the company. However, when I recommended one question that he ask his employees, he was a bit taken aback. “You want me to ask my team: ‘Are there any benefits

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