Archive for December, 2011

When recruiting…

It helps to be a programmer/ hacker/ engineer/ developer.

Or think like one.

Chris Dixon wrote a popular post on how to recruit programmers to your startup. In short, appreciating a programmer’s creative ability and technical contribution through compensation is huge. If you combine Dixon’s advice with having truth vision like elders (see earlier post on Seeing through People), it’s likely the programming gods will favor you.

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Elders can sniff out a fake.

They not only have tons of life experience but tons of people experience. In other words, they understand how people work. They notice a liar when he is avoiding eye contact and mismatching his words and body gestures. Elders can sense ingenuity in a heart beat based on a handshake. You may know someone like this. Maybe a mentor, friend, or grandparent. Elders are usually people who have been around for a while.

Most investors fall into the elder category. They care about the details and use those details to determine your character and capabilities–teachable genius or arrogant jerk? Yes, increasing traction is important (see an earlier post on gaining traction) but what’s even more important is what’s behind the traction–you! That’s if you plan on sticking around to grow your startup. Otherwise, investors will find other ways.

As a startup, you should know the way of the elder. In fact, become an elder. You don’t have to be old. Study people. Learn the tricks. Sniff out the liars. Get faster at it. In the long run, this will save you time (and pain) when hiring.


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“What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” -Friedrich Nietzsche, German philosopher

Well, maybe.

Most techy founders are obsessed about two things: product and money. There is a problem with this. If one focuses too much on the product, then it’s easy to miss out on building things that people actually want. If one focuses too much on the money, then it’s easy to make poor decisions for short term gains. Both obsessions lead to destruction.

What is the fresh founder supposed to be obsessed about then? In addition to being obsessed about your vision, a founder should also be obsessed with learning.

I know, it sounds cliche. It’s not. Running out of learning definitely is worse than running out of money. The most successful startups are composed of the fastest learners. The fastest learners tend to be the ones that move the fastest too. Go figure. And the most adaptable.

Not sure what you’re supposed to learn? Start making mistakes. Learning from your own mistakes is a good motivator. You can also learn from other people’s mistakes too. Eric Ries wrote a whole book about it.

Is your startup fail safe?

You wake up every morning with a knot in your stomach. Before you open your eyes, you think of seventeen ideas you want to pull off in the next 24 hours. Scratch that. Twenty-three ideas. As you lug yourself over to your favorite cafe, Roast or Toast, the sparky barista asks how much progress your startup has made. Are all baristas morning people? All of a sudden you remember the   Read More ...

A little competition never hurt anyone. Right? Whether you accept it or not, your startup has competition. Right now. If people are not using your product or service right now they are using something else. That’s your competition. It’s good to know your enemy well enough so you know what strategies to use and in which areas you have the greatest strengths (e.g. speed of execution, team dynamics, technical expertise,   Read More ...

Startup Marketing: How to Gain Traction

Neat presentation done by Rand Fishkin from SEOmoz a couple days ago.   Slides are here if you’re not into videos. The presentation was a slap on the wrist if you’ve been ignoring search engine results and social media. Take home message: Build something people want…to link to.


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“It goes on and on and on and on…”

People aren’t nice. It goes along with life not being fair. If life’s not fair, then why do people need to be nice? See? Here are 7 ways you can take criticism. Constructive and destructive. Naughty or nice.

1- Stay cool. Being a cool cat will train you to be just that, a cool cat. Keep that emotion steady.

2- Ask for specifics. Sometimes people do not realize they’re being unhelpful. Help them help you. Ask for specifics to their (and your) problem.

3- Stay positive. Criticisms are opportunities to improve your [insert something you do or make] or build your character. Remember, if it doesn’t kill you, it builds character.

4- Be thankful. Thanksgiving wasn’t that long ago! You’re used to this. A sincere thanks will go far in terms of respect.

5- Change something. You received criticism for a reason. Do something. Of course, you do not need to take action on every critique. Just the ones that actually help.

6- Listen to Journey. It’s important to never lose sight of your vision. Don’t stop believing.

7- Listen to Journey again. Repetition is key.