When I’m listening to Naveen Jain describing his plan to create big business on the moon, it’s hard for me to grasp that he was once a poor child in India.
Today, Naveen is a billionaire and a very successful entrepreneur. His own recipe for success is, among other things, not knowing much and not being very good at anything. To me, that sounds like the opposite of what business life normally requires, yet Naveen isn’t joking, and his track record proves that he is not wrong either. After all, the young boy that grew up in poverty in India is today changing the world as we know it and has Sir Richard Branson and Google founder Larry Page as two of his good personal friends.
Jonathan: Naveen, I find it so inspiring that you have used entrepr...
I had the pleasure of talking to Blake about his ideas and experiences as a social entrepreneur. I started by asking him about how TOMS started.
Blake: I started TOMS after a trip I took to Argentina in 2006. I noticed that many of the locals wore shoes that I learned were alpargata. I also noticed that in rural villages there were many children who were without shoes and how that was affecting their daily lives. I had to come up with a way to help and knew that relying on donations alone was not a sustainable solution, so I used my knowledge of business to come up with an idea. The result was a for-profit business model that empowers customers to help children through their purchases. For every pair of shoes purchased, a new pair is given ...
Long after our startup is done, no matter what the outcome, our Founder reputations will live on.
And for many of us, that could actually present a real problem.
Unlike our resumes, which present essentially one dimension of our lives (our job performance), our Founder Reputation is built on how our performance affects so many people — employees, investors, customers, the media, and even our personal relationships.
From the get-go, we have two huge obstacles working against creating a great reputation.
First, we're about to build an organization that will likely (statistically) fail. It's sort of hard to build a winning reputation on the back of a potential failure that could result in the loss of job...
TL;DR "I saw someone in your social network that I'd love to get an introduction to. How can I make that ask while making you feel good about doing it?"
Founders are really bad at asking for introductions.
On a daily basis I get a request that looks something like this: "Hey Wil, I see that you know , would you mind introducing me to them? I just had this idea 9 seconds ago and I'd love to see if they'd invest in me!"
Now, mind you, I make a living by helping Founders (my dream job) so making introductions is a huge part of my job. The problem isn't my willingness to make them, it's the inexperience of Founders in how to ask for an introduction.
As Founders, our ability to get introductions is the lifeblood of our growth. Here's how to do i...
Decoupling startup stress from our "regular life" is one of the biggest challenges we deal with as Founders. Running a startup isn't like working at a job. The startup is a part of who we are, so our stress feels like it's imprinted into our very DNA.
Yet, at the same time, if we can't decouple our startup stress and our home lives, we risk destroying both. What we need is an actual strategy for freeing up our minds so that we can actually enjoy both sides of our lives.
As Founders, we are awesome at attacking problems all day long at our startups. So why is it that we never isolate the problem of our "take-home stress" and attack it with the same intensity?
The first step is to isolate the problem as an actua...
As a Founder, no matter what I've ever accomplished I've never been OK with where I am. It's weird, too, because I started out with so little that accomplishing anything was a huge win. And yet, I find that my anxiety exists in nearly ever Founder I meet.
It almost seems like the very drive and ambition that makes us great Founders also makes it very difficult for us to just kick back and enjoy the status quo. It's as if we're Kevin Arnold constantly reaching for the car door handle of accomplishment while our asshole older brother Wayne keeps hitting the gas pedal when we try.
When we had nothing but a dumb idea and a dream, the idea that this could turn into our day job was a massive milestone. ...
Fresh from graduating at the bottom of my class in high school, I packed my $800 orange Datsun and moved to some weird place I'd never heard of before called "Ohio" to go to college. Back then the Internet didn't exist as we now know it, so when you left the state (unless you called someone on their home line) — you no longer existed.
I went ghost for almost 4 years — no trips home, no holidays — nothing. I lost touch with most of my friends and family. But while they were wondering what prison I was incarcerated at, I was busy building one of the first Internet companies.
The company did well, and when I returned, I was a millionaire. Little did I know that from that point on none of my relationships would ever be the same. Here are the ha...
Founders are rarely prepared for how to handle a legit crisis, like when the whole world turns upside down overnight.
I lived through 9/11 with 700 employees, raised multiple funding rounds in the middle of the 2007 Financial Crisis, and just for "funsies" oversaw the overnight shutdown of a startup with 450 people.
So yeah, I have some experience here.
What I've learned is when crisis hits, a solid approach to communication is one of the single most effective tools we can employ.
In times of crisis, no one wants to hear the sugar-coated version of where things stand.
"Hey Team, I know half of you have turned into flesh-eating Zombies, but the good news is there's way more La Croix for those of you who have survived!"
Would you rather make $200K with a shitty quality of life or $100K with an awesome quality of life?
In the startup world we all seem to understand that $200K is better than $100K, but we do a really lousy job of qualifying that difference based on what actually matters — our quality of life.
When we step back for a second, we may come to find out that "compensation" in strictly monetary terms, is a broken metric. We're all really trying to translate those dollar signs into how it will impact our quality of life.
So why don't we just start with what improves our quality of life and then figure out where money comes in?
Years ago at Startups.com, we instituted a work from home policy. At the time we were all sti...
During the early days of my first startup I stumbled upon a huge liability that was killing us quickly — me.
What's funny is no one else needed to have this discovery. The rest of the organization had figured out long ago that I was immature, combative, prone to anxious tirades, and generally a pain in the ass to work with.
And looking back, I'm probably being kind.
As a Founder (and CEO), every single one of those idiosyncrasies becomes amplified a hundred-fold because my liabilities to the organization become rooted in every decision we make, every interaction we have, and the entire morale of the company.
If we don't exercise some serious self realization — and do it quickly — we may be creating one of the biggest hurdles our organiza...