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Archive for January, 2013


The Best Thing About A Vacation For Entrepreneurs

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Vacations are great.

But vacations for entrepreneurs are opportunities.

This is your chance to step outside your regular routine and see other problems out in the world.

You need to find pain people have, but you have designed your life to minimize pain. Only by breaking with routine can you discover and learn new things.


Night School

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

If an employee at your company announces their intention to go to night school, what does that mean for the organization?

Caveat: I have never gone to night school. I barely finished college. Also, I am talking about technology professionals that already have an undergraduate degree and are getting an MBA or something.

Generally I would say that people that decide to go to night school fall into a few buckets:

  • People looking to make a career shift.
  • People that believe that upward mobility in their chosen profession is restricted by their lack of degrees.
  • People are bored.

Frankly, to me, when an employee tells me that they have decided to go to night school, that is a red flag. Are they not challenged enough? Do they think that their upward mobility at our company is limited? My objective as an employer is to capture as much of my employees mindshare as possible. I recognize that people have personal lives and I want employees to have a healthy work-life balance, but to me, this is “work” and I want “work” to be focused on work. Why are you spending your nights thinking about problems that other people assigned to you besides your colleagues?

Incidentally, if I was interviewing someone and they were doing night school, that would not be a huge negative. That just means they aren’t challenged at work today. Good for them to not settle.

Senior People Can Always Be Fired

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

Couldn’t find an unoffensive photo for this blog post. Sorry.

If you are a middle manager at a large organization, you will find that letting someone go is difficult. In fact, at Time Warner/Aol, it was near impossible. True story: I was told by a fellow manager that he had tried to cut a poor performer but had been told by Time Warner legal/HR that because the poor performer was a female minority it could not be done. IT SIMPLY COULD NOT BE DONE.

This isn’t true at higher levels in the organization. The CEO can let anyone go simply because.

“We have re-organized and no longer have a CFO.”

“We have re-organized and no longer need a head of sales.”

“We have re-organized and no longer need you.”

These are all plausible things a CEO can say to fire you. Or generally, any senior person can say to any senior person that reports to them.

Just FYI.

People Hate Advertising – And That is Why You Should Love It

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013


The current meme sweeping the entrepreneurosphere is “A product has to be 10x to 20x better than current solutions to win” because the market is stacked against a start-up.

I buy into this, generally. A product can’t be a little better to overcome switching costs. It has to be a lot better.

Good news: It seems that everyone thinks advertising sucks. All you need to do is make a product people don’t hate and it will 12098205820458420x better than the status quo.

My personal feeling: This is a tricky subject because it probably has to do with the creative experience. Agencies hate digital advertising because it lacks the story arc and interruptive attention-grabbing qualities of TV. Consumers hate TV ads also. You don’t want the solution to be one-off brilliant creatives a la subservient chicken. It needs to scale. But it probably isn’t 100% algorithmic. It probably has to do with better creatives, but it also has to do with better targeting.

Good luck!

Best Hacker News Posts of 2012

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013


In many ways, I am annoyed by Hacker News and trust me, my forthcoming post: “All the popular posts on Hacker News are posts I wrote poorly re-written” will be a doozy, but I wanted to do an end of year wrap-up post and decided that, for lack of a better idea, I would feature my favorite posts from Hacker News. These tended to be topics that were not rehashes of topics I have already covered, so in that respect, they are interesting. Here they are:

Couple of comments to add some value: You know my topics if you follow this blog, so not many of these should come as a shock. The single hardest part of most start-ups is user acquisition, so there are lots of articles about user acquisition across a broad spectrum here: Book authors acquiring users, inbound marketing, bands acquiring users, growth hackers. Quick comment on growth hacking – I love it. I love the idea. I love the original conceit at Facebook for growth hacking. I totally buy in. Having said that, growth hacking is similar to Gangnam Style in that the moment it came into existence it simultaneously jumped the shark. 99.9% of the time, people are simply intellectually dishonest with themselves about what they are doing if they think they are growth hacking.

The UserVoice article is kind of lame, but there you go. Something product management-ish.

How to Nap is probably the single most important piece of news from 2012.

Finally, as everyone knows by now, smart drugs are my obsession. They will change the world.