Find A Competition You Can Win

In college football, the practice of scheduling cream puffs is both much reviled and much practiced. Football powers pay smaller schools to act as sacrificial lambs. Seeking out weaker competitors is a contemptible trait in football, but it’s good strategy when it comes to business. There’s no BCS formula to give you extra credit for … Continue reading Find A Competition You Can Win

When in doubt, steal

When in doubt, steal–see what others have done to be successful and learn from them. In “Stumbling On Happiness,” Dan Gilbert wrote about how humans overestimate their uniqueness. The best way to predict if something will make you happy is to ask a perfect stranger who did the same thing. The same principle holds true … Continue reading When in doubt, steal

Competence Kills

Competence isn’t a bad thing, but it’s no longer enough. Maybe there was a time when you could build a successful life based on “pretty good.” But those days are gone, along with three martini lunches and wearing hats all the time. Pretty good works in a stable environment because of the principle of leverage. … Continue reading Competence Kills

The Power of Behavior Change

One of the things we’re taught in Silicon Valley is how difficult it is to change user behavior. We go out of our way to avoid requiring behavior change (though some of our biggest success stories depend on it–witness Facebook and Twitter). But there’s another implication that most people miss–if changing behavior is hard, you … Continue reading The Power of Behavior Change

Take What The Defense Gives You

I’ve noticed that fewer and fewer young people are sports fans these days, which is a shame, because the world of sports is rich with useful metaphors. For example, last week during my regular basketball game, I was having trouble scoring against my friend Mon. I used to be able to bully him in the … Continue reading Take What The Defense Gives You

The True Meaning Of Customer Value

So often, we think about customers from an MBA perspective. Segments. Churn. Life-time value. But when we think about value, we think about their value to us as businesses. We need to turn it around and think about how we can add value to their lives. Only if we add value to their lives will … Continue reading The True Meaning Of Customer Value

The Best Time For Change Is When People Are Forced To Choose

I like Seth Godin’s work, but I think he’s overrated. It’s not Seth’s fault; he keeps doing great work. But the Internet hype machine has saddled him with ridiculously high expectations and a worshipful aurora of groupies, which makes it difficult to evaluate his work properly. Nonetheless, his recent post, “Pick Anything — The Calculus … Continue reading The Best Time For Change Is When People Are Forced To Choose

In Praise of Capital Efficiency: How Being A Cheap Bastard Leads To Startup Success

Whenever a boom comes around, I read articles about how it’s dangerous to be too cheap and too cautious. One saying I learned during the last boom was “You can’t save your way to prosperity.” Maybe. But as you start to hear the siren song of profligacy (last time, we called it “Get Big Fast”), … Continue reading In Praise of Capital Efficiency: How Being A Cheap Bastard Leads To Startup Success

Pick Your Battle(field)s

Entrepreneurial success is less about picking your battles than it is about picking your battlefields. Amateurs focus on tactics–working around the clock, hard-selling, flooding the world with business cards. The truth is that most battles are won or lost before the opposing forces take the field. During the Second Punic War, Hannibal beat the Roman … Continue reading Pick Your Battle(field)s