Category Archives: Personal Development

Redundancy is key

To be a manager is to make yourself irrelevant.

Mark Suster agrees.

Finding the talent that ensures you’re protected in case someone gets hit by a “beer truck” (or in my case, a “soda truck”) makes life really easy.  But let’s be honest, the folks that are attracted to a small company that has potential are not necessarily the folks who have “been there and done that”.  They won’t immediately be at the level in their career necessary to take on your top levels of executive management.  So what needs to happen?  You spend more money hiring top talent that accepts positions below their capability in the off chance something happens above them so they can fill the shoes?  That seems a bit too altruistic for someone who’s in it for the money and the potential upside of a hot startup making the big time.

Instead, you need to invest in your people.  Make them capable to fill your shoes.  Mentor them, guide them, teach them to do your job.  Increasingly give them more and more responsibility.  Don’t just thrust it on them, but nurture them so that when the time comes, they can do the job you need them to do.

By the way, this is not to say you should expect them to do the job you need them to do before you formalize that role for them.  You have to do right by your employee.  If you expect them to be your CTO, give them the job roles and responsibilities of your CTO formally.  Or set their expectations by placing them on a performance plan that in some period of time enables them to take that job.  Don’t just expect it of them without any communication.

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.

Enjoy!

Unlearning

Is there value in unlearning what we do for the first 22 odd years of our life?  Penelope Trunk thinks so.

I’m not so sure I find as little value as she does in the traditional tools that help children develop intellectually.

From my own experience, I started off as a poor student until I got the assistance and focus from private education.  From there, I was taught how to reason, how to apply effort in structured ways to meet societal norms around consuming information and sharing my own ideas and innovation.  These concepts spanned mathematics, science, literature, history, and economics.  (note, no geography 🙂 but that’s another topic).

I can’t 1. imagine being able to unlearn that and 2. I think these tools have their place.  Certainly there are pieces that I don’t disagree with, namely grading systems and rewards for completing your homework.

What do you think?

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 – http://bsr.london.edu/lbs-article/767/index.html

Amazing story by an angelic journalist about 2 amazing boys

http://m.espn.go.com/general/story?storyId=9454322&src=desktop

Read it. You won’t be sorry.

One day I hope I can give to someone as selflessly as Lisa Fenn did.

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.