Get Explicit with a Risks Dashboard

At the start of mentoring an entrepreneurship class the other day, I realized: “This group has no consensus or specificity around their belief system.” If you don’t know what you believe, how can you check if you are right? Working blindly leads to working harder, not smarter. There are lots of ways to get specificity and shared… Continue reading

Lessons from a Restaurant Kitchen

The world around us is full of inspiration. I was reminded of this last night when I ate at Cockscomb, one of my now-favorite places in San Francisco. Unlike my last visitation, I was alone. Thus I found myself eating at the bar, watching an incredible orchestra perform in front of me in their open… Continue reading

The Tyranny of Shareholder Returns

When Hillary Clinton recently took aim at hit-and-run activist investors, hedge-funder Donald Drapkin retorted that “Management forgets that shareholders own the company.” This is legally true, but conceptually problematic. Short term investors really own an abstract object, which I’ll call a chit. They think the chit will go up or down, and they either invest… Continue reading

Playdoh and Silly Putty

Why do we like working with our hands so much? What is it about making something tactile, that gets the brain engaged? Whenever there is a complex decision to be made, and usually nothing is more hairy than prioritization debates, I like writing things out on index cards (one item per card, bonus if I… Continue reading

Custdev: Starting with First Principles

On Friday morning, I popped over to Frank Rimalovski and Lindsay Gray’s always-impressive startup class at NYU‘s Entrepreneurial Institute to talk about vetting new ideas. Afterwards, one team asked the classic question, “if I shouldn’t ask speculative questions, and yet my product isn’t ready to test, how can I do customer development?” In their case, they… Continue reading

Upside and Downside

Heidi Roizen has yet another great post this week: “How to Build a Unicorn from Scratch – and Walk Away With Nothing.” Every budding entrepreneur should read it. Her post isn’t just about valuations and terms. It is also about thinking through downside. In frothy times, especially when equity starts to feel more valuable than cash… Continue reading