The truest goal for starting a company is to grow it to a stronger place of stability.
To battle a generational low point in business incorporation, we’ve built a solid drumbeat celebrating entrepreneurship. To complement this charge, we need a serious dialogue about transitioning founders into leaders, from the one who started a company to the one who is growing it.
As a cofounder of 25-person publishing company Technically Media who has interviewed hundreds of founders and CEOs along the way, I am experiencing this transition myself. To give yourself the best shot at success in business, you must know what your goals are. One of them should be looking for opportunities to make this transition from founder to leader.
That was the focus of a lecture and workshop I led at the second annual Fearless Conference, held by the precocious Melissa Alam, who has developed a wonderful community of (mostly) young women aspiring to build businesses of their own. Below I share my slides, some notes and reaction to my talk.
Continue reading Be a leader, not a founder
When you’re building a team, each role is best filled by someone on a range between generalists and specialists. The first is flexible but lacking expertise, and the latter is experienced but lacking range.
Of course, like the term use among animals, most of us are somewhere on a spectrum, but it still can be a helpful prism to see your applicant pool. Some celebrate the generalist and others honor the specialist but both are necessary and nuanced. And perhaps most important to remember: anyone can move along that spectrum, depending on their willingness and adaptability. But be conscious of your choices.
Continue reading Generalists and specialists: when to hire for habits and when not to
There’s a feeling that persists that at some point in your career, you’re successful enough that you get to the stage.
You’re handed a microphone and you begin to share what you have learned, all that you have accomplished. You move from the crowd to the curated. And once you get there, the goal is to never go back.
Continue reading Great leaders sit in the audience
Entrepreneurship has a legacy of leaders who got started early. That sense of independence, experimentation and motivation to be challenged appears to often be a natural instinct.
When I started Technical.ly in early 2009, I had no experience or real awareness of entrepreneurship. We’ve learned a lot, and in truth, I still remain a relatively inexperienced founder, but I have taken and enjoyed this early entrepreneurial experience.
Continue reading Entrepreneurs often start early: here are 5 of my own examples
The hard part of entrepreneurship may not be succeeding, as much as it is about deciding what success if for you. That might be the cause of so much argument about this moment of entrepreneurship — should it be wealth, mission, personal satisfaction, longevity, legacy or something else? More likely, it’s a mixture of them all, with your own happiness the leader, and deciding on that balance is part of the process.
But the point here is you can’t ever succeed in anything (including building your business) unless you know what you want to happen. That way you can optimize for whatever you most want.
Continue reading You can only succeed in building a business if you know what’s success: ‘Like a Boss’
When you run a publicly-traded company with an $80 billion market cap, it’s easy to focus on the short-term. Strained by a year of declining share price, Bill McDermott, the first American CEO of German software giant SAP, says he’s far more focused on making an organization-wide shift that will better suit the company for the future.
“You can’t build a company for 60 days; build for 60 years,” he said.
I interviewed McDermott as a keynote for the IMPACT venture capital conference held by PACT in Center City Philadelphia last week. Find my coverage of our conversation here.
Paypal cofounder, public intellectual and global tech entrepreneurship leader Peter Thiel is thoughtful in his perspective on economic growth. An interview with him was on our last Technical.ly podcast and an even longer conversation he had on a different podcast was even more enlightening.
Continue reading Every entrepreneur should be building a monopoly: Peter Thiel
There is an entire industry of creative productivity self-help resources. My friend Sean Blanda gave me ‘Manage Your Day-to-Day,’ one in a portfolio of books from 99U, an effort from Behance, the Adobe division where he works.
It was a quick and energizing read. Buy it for $8. As I like to do, I wanted to share a few of the directives I most acted on.
Continue reading Manage Your Day-To-Day: lessons from this 99U book on productivity
Following the July 2014 final rules implementation of the Affordable Care Act, my company Technical.ly was impacted more severely than we expected. This is not a political article — I am not opposed to Obamacare — this is a small business owner’s experience.
With just eight full-time team members (excluding, of course, our part-time independent contractors), I am solely responsible for managing our healthcare coverage plan, and while I tried to prepare for what the change might be, I wasn’t ready for our costs to more than double, and, for some plans, almost triple. Here’s what I learned and what we did.
Continue reading Obamacare more than doubled my company’s healthcare costs: here’s what we did
Stop taking credit for ideas you didn’t execute on. We’ve all had those moments. When you find out about a new project or initiative and can recall with great clarity having had that very idea before.
It’s natural to want to allow ourselves that moment of validation. It’s as if a thought of yours has sprung fully formed, so it’s rewarding to take some ownership over it. But’ it’s hardly fair and certainly not accurate.
Continue reading Ideas are easy, execution is hard