Category Archives: Attitude

Loyalty can be rewarding

In a day an age where upward mobility and career growth are characterized by jumping ship and changing jobs every two years, its pretty amazing to read about the few exceptions, notably one Dolf van den Brink of Heineken.



Passion trumps Experience

CVs are important.  Street cred and what you’ve done is valuable.  Wait no, they define you.

But if you don’t care about what you do, you won’t be successful at it.  You can manage the hell out of something and work tirelessly.  But if you aren’t passionate about what it is you do, your results will show it…for they will be but mediocrity.

For a good read on the value of Founders in a Startup even after the big boys come in to run things, check out –

Watch A Teacher Make Her 3rd-Grade Kids Hate Each Other For The Best Reason Imaginable

OMG. I wish I had seen this in school. Amazing teacher. This type of education should be brought back into institutions.

Little River School Online

images“I saw this video in college, and I immediately changed my major. The payoff at the end is brilliant and a perfect metaphor for what we deal with and face every day in our society. Like “Catcher in the Rye” is to high school students, this is part of your Upworthy required reading.

1:30: This teacher begins a study that will be talked about for 40 years.
3:00: She re-creates segregation and racism in her classroom.
7:45: Mrs. Elliott flips the entire class on their heads.
10:00 Jane Elliot makes the most profound discovery about us all
11:43: The students learn something that the world is still struggling to.
There are too many great moments to point out. Just watch.” – Rafael Casal from

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What is change?

The following are thoughts reflecting my impressions after reading Penelope Trunk’s latest.

What is change?   What is progress?  Does progress mean we stop worrying about things that are currently stressing us out?  Or does it simply mean that we start worrying about things that we don’t consider yet to be stressing us out?

In Penelope’s article, she says that you can stop worrying about bad grades, poor communication skills, sketchy backgrounds, and reading online negatively affecting your job application.  The key is to identify a way to stand out and differentiate yourself from the pool of applicants.

But when unemployment is high, does it matter?  Unless you have specialized skills, how do you differentiate yourself?  At the end of the day, unless you know someone, an employer evaluates your application based on a cover letter and a resume.  When I review resumes, I rarely review anything more than the skills someone has.  In fact, most of the resume leg work is handled for me by HR.  The mere fact that I speak to you means you have an honest to god shot at the job.  But then, it comes entirely down to communication skills.  Can you do the job?  Can you communicate with your peers, subordinates and superiors?  If you can’t demonstrate those skills in a 30-60 minute interview, it doesn’t matter what capabilities you have on paper.  I don’t believe you can do the job.

Note, I’m considering the job you’re looking for is in product management so the lens I look at may be different than what Penelope was talking about.

Startup Lessons – Raising Funds

Steve Blank recently blogged about Fund Raising is a Means Not an End.  It was thought provoking.

I’ve been involved in 4 startups now, 2 of which were boot strapped by either angels or customers and 2 that were VC backed.  Of the angel funded, 1 is still limping along trying to work towards scalable growth and the other was acquired due to strong customer revenues.  Of the VC backed, one was fire sold to a bigger company so the VCs could recoup some of their investment.  The other is doing great 🙂 but that’s a different topic that I won’t dig into.

I tend to agree with Steve’s take on raising funds for a startup.  There’s something to be said about treating the money you receive as a gift, one that is funding your dream to build something akin to a blossoming tree that starts as a seed.  Taking that further, consider how to build an orchard.  Farmers start with young saplings planted in many rows and nurture them into adult fruit-bearing trees.  

But how do they get saplings?  They start from many seeds and tons of water.  Even still, many of those seeds peter out.  But some of them turn into the saplings that make it into the orchard.  

The seed is like the startup and the venture capital the water and nutrients that help the seed grow into the sapling.  More money doesn’t necessary improve the situation in terms of guaranteeing more saplings.  Instead, what helps is constant experimentation to improve the efficacy in converting seeds into saplings.  In the end, the experimentation results in a repeatable process that results in more saplings to grow the orchard.

To bring the analogy home, constant experimentation and efficacy improvement is what the serial entrepreneur is really good at.  It helps to transform a temporary situation (the startup) into the scalable repeatable business we all want.  And for that, money is the means.  Not the end.


Student Always

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A colleague recently pointed me to Sabrina Simmons‘ 2010 commencement address at Berkeley.  What she said about a principle called ‘Student Always’ really resonates with me, mostly because it’s advice I can’t help but ALWAYS give out myself! 🙂

If you love your job I truly believe it’s hard not to be successful. The hours will surely be long, but they’ll go by fast and they’ll be rewarding. It’s rewarding because you keep learning and growing both professionally and personally. And here’s another thing about doing what you love: your passion can’t help but come through. And the thing about passion is it’s contagious. Others will want to join and support you in the drive for results creating a virtuous cycle.

Check out the full transcript here, it’s a really good read.

Rebuilding relationships

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Sometimes work relationships get strained.  Sometimes they are beyond saving and it’s best to move on understanding that two parties will never be able to effectively work together.

But, you don’t get that luxury in small companies.  Everyone has to be an impact player, and two impact players who should work together, can’t, well that’s a problem.

So how do you go about rebuilding that relationship?  Here are a few things that I’ve found works.  Understand that both parties have to want to work together, even though they clash.  If one can’t, or won’t, make the effort to meet half way, well then, both parties have got bigger problems.

  1. Respect each other, despite your history and clashing in the past.
  2. Listen to each other, particularly when one has valid input on a given situation that can save everyone time and effort.
  3. Throw each other a bone.  Let’s face it, everyone wants to look good.  Scratch their back and maybe they’ll scratch yours.
These aren’t perfect suggestions, but then again, the situation isn’t perfect either.  What will end up working will seem obvious in hindsight.  But it definitely won’t be trivial.
I’d be curious if any of you have other thoughts on what works for you.  Feel free to leave a comment!