To sharpen your thinking, engage with those who disagree

One of the reasons it’s useful to engage with people who don’t agree with you is that it forces you to think much more rigorously.It’s easy to get away with sloppy thinking and careless arguments when you’re preaching to the choir. As long as what you say supports their beliefs, they won’t point out the … Continue reading To sharpen your thinking, engage with those who disagree

Say Just Enough, But Not Too Much

Entrepreneurs are passionate, but this passion can be their undoing. One common mistake entrepreneurs make is to say too much. It’s easy to understand why.  First, entrepreneurs know a lot about their space and their product.  Second, they love the subject so much, they’d happily expound for hours.  Finally, they can’t help wanting to show … Continue reading Say Just Enough, But Not Too Much

The Power of Surprise

Humans love to be surprised (as long as the surprise isn’t a nasty shock). As thinking creatures, our ability to develop an accurate working model of the world depends on our ability to spot the unexpected. Surprise is a great mechanism for rewarding that ability. Wharton conducted a study of viral videos.  They had research … Continue reading The Power of Surprise

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

Getting to the point is a cardinal virtue

While the startup life can be full of excitement, it can also be incredibly repetitive.  Take the pitch, for example. Many entrepreneurs dislike fundraising because they have to deliver the same pitch over and over.  I’ve lost track of the times that people have referred to themselves as a wind-up toy. Yet if entrepreneurs think … Continue reading Getting to the point is a cardinal virtue

Behavior Change comes from the Human Touch

Atul Gawande is a wonderful writer who happens to be a doctor.  His last book, “The Checklist Manifesto,” was a best-seller that focused on the power of simple checklists to change behaviors. Yet his latest article in the New Yorker, “How Do Good Ideas Spread?” focuses on the limits of the relatively simple checklist approach: … Continue reading Behavior Change comes from the Human Touch

Fear of Failure > Promise of Success

Anyone who has been following applied psychology in the past decade has heard of loss aversion–specifically, people react more strongly to the loss of $100 than the gain of $100.  This asymmetry is best expressed in the old startup adage (which predates loss aversion research), “Sell painkillers, not vitamins.” In my own professional career, I … Continue reading Fear of Failure > Promise of Success

Address objections, don’t hide from them

In response to my blog post on Cutting The Bullshit, the good folks at Storygami pointed me to a blog post they had written about their approach to applying for TechStars: http://bit.ly/11ezW2x The Storygami team addresses the probable objections head-on, including one objection that is typically a deal-killer: Two Of Our Founders Are A Couple … Continue reading Address objections, don’t hide from them

Obama uses science to beat Romney

The anti-science bent of certain elements of the Republican party (Creationism anyone?) is obviously repugnant to many people, including me. Now it appears that stance came back to bite Mitt Romney during the presidential election. The Obama campaign secretly assembled a team of famous experts in psychology, persuasion, and behavioral economics to plan out campaign … Continue reading Obama uses science to beat Romney

The Power Of The Extreme Example

One of the entrepreneurs I’ve advised called me Yoda, because he said I was always using Jedi mind tricks to persuade him. He must not have minded, since he presented me with a Yoda bobblehead, which I keep on my mantel. One of my favorite tricks is to combine the power of the extreme example … Continue reading The Power Of The Extreme Example