Hope Enables The Better Angels Of Our Nature

I’ve seen a lot written lately about the mental impact of poverty.  The trigger was probably this article, which originally began as a long comment on Gawker: http://bit.ly/Ixkjkg The author shares her experiences living in poverty, and the psychological struggles she faces.  The key passage is probably this one: “It does not matter what will … Continue reading Hope Enables The Better Angels Of Our Nature

Before fixing a mistake, ask yourself if it matters:

If nature abhors a vacuum, startup people abhor mistakes. Most of us got to where we are via a long chain of good grades and aggressive action, which means our instinctive reaction is to attack mistakes like a hungry piranha. And that itself is a mistake. It feels good to jump into action, to examine … Continue reading Before fixing a mistake, ask yourself if it matters:

As a manager, the default is trust

As a manager or CEO, what is your reaction when someone proposes a plan of action? Most of us feel like we need to “improve” such proposals. It’s hard to say why. Perhaps that helps us “look smarter.” Perhaps we feel like we want to help. Or maybe we’re worried that if we don’t offer … Continue reading As a manager, the default is trust

Leadership is Emotional, Not Rational

The great Eric Barker does a fantastic job of illuminating the difference between management and leadership in his post, “Qualities Of A Leader”:http://bit.ly/1bnDaYc Eric quotes theorist John Kotter on the fundamental distinction: “Management controls people by pushing them in the right direction; leadership motivates them by satisfying basic human needs.” For entrepreneurs, the implications aren’t … Continue reading Leadership is Emotional, Not Rational

The Power of Assertive Inquiry

The startup world is full of people with strong opinions.  We value people who can articulate a clear point of view.  Yet the constant focus on advocacy can lead us down argumentative ratholes, and cause us to miss the contributions of the less assertive. Rather than focusing on simply arguing for our own point of … Continue reading The Power of Assertive Inquiry

Start With “Why” not “What”

I’ve been catching up on my RSS feeds this weekend, and loved a piece that the great Eric Barker wrote on the secrets of great presentations: http://bit.ly/14Z30wK The part of the piece I’d like to focus on is the very first point, which he sums up with a quote from Simon Sinek, the author of … Continue reading Start With “Why” not “What”

Every Employee Should Think Like A Product CEO

I really enjoyed Ben Horowitz’s TechCrunch guest post, “Why Founders Fail: The Product CEO Paradox”: http://tcrn.ch/17xSiBp Ben nailed it on the head when he said that founder/CEOs who are product visionaries flounder when they disengage from the product: “It turns out that the CEO was only world-class at the product, so she effectively transformed herself … Continue reading Every Employee Should Think Like A Product CEO

The Real Lesson of Steve Jobs: Results Trump Personality

Like many people, I’m addicted to reading about Steve Jobs.  I’ve said before that he’s a towering figure whose name will be on a par with Ford or Rockefeller–an all-time great.  But I’ve also had a hard time reconciling the greatness and pettiness of the man. I recently read a Wired article from 2012 that … Continue reading The Real Lesson of Steve Jobs: Results Trump Personality

The Crucible of Reality

I was talking history with my old friend Alvin Fu when we both realized that there seemed to be a consistent pattern with some important implications for the startup world Our conversation began with a discussion of Ulysses S. Grant, the great Civil War General and two-term President: http://bit.ly/14mIVQx When the Civil War began, Grant … Continue reading The Crucible of Reality

Caring and Credible Leadership

I am a naturally friendly person.  As I’ve written before, I have a friendly face.  For example, older ladies love me (I assume I remind them of their grandkids).  But when I was younger, I worried that this warmth might work against me. As it turns out, I was both wrong and right about this. … Continue reading Caring and Credible Leadership