For those of you that missed the SaaStr SCALE conference last month, Jason Lemkin has a great overview including links to the top eight presentations.
The #1 rated session was an interview with Todd McKinnon, CEO Okta — it was excellent and I highly recommend it.
My presentation was the #2 rated session. Here is the full video:
And here is the full learnings:
(1) Avoid good opportunities
the MOST IMPORTANT advice I can give you is to avoid good opportunities.
avoid good opportunities like you work to avoid the coronavirus.
Good opportunities must be avoided at ALL costs.
this is true if you want to build a great company … but this is JUST AS true in life.
the more successful you become, the more good opportunities are going to come at you. soon you will be swimming in good opportunities.
again, that’s true for companies and true for you individually.
let’s first dive into this advice individually and then show it applies to building a business.
let’s say you are 22 years old and don’t have any money. well then you are likely going to see very few opportunities to invest and most of them will be bad. but as you gain wealth, you will see more opportunities to invest — and many of them will be good. but even the good opportunities take time and effort to review — so it is in your best interest to do everything possible to wait only for the great opportunities.
this is even more true when running a company. the possibilities of the number of things you can do to grow your business are endless. you can launch new products, be better at recruiting, speak at SaaStr, and so much more. my advice, have some sort of rubric that allows you to ID good opportunities and avoid them.
but how do I know when an opportunity is just good and not great?
my simple heuristic: if the opportunity has few obvious downsides, it is almost certainly NOT a great opportunity. all great opportunities have very big and very obvious downsides.
of course, just because it has obvious downsides doesn’t mean it is a great opportunities — it still is more likely to be a bad or good opportunity … but if you see something with no obvious downsides, it almost certainly is not great.
this is also true with people you hire. if you want to hire a 10xer, that person will almost certainly have glaring faults. anyone that you can hire without glaring faults will, at best, be good — they will certainly not be great.
summary: avoid good opportunities like you avoid COVID-19
(2) Delegate things you are good at
most people advise us to delegate things you are not good at. they advise to surround yourself with people that have different strengths and different weaknesses.
this is the conventional advice.
maybe someone on your board already gave you this advice.
most of us have heard this advice many times over the years.
but this is terrible advice. don’t listen to it. ignore it. take it outside in the backyard and bury it. stab it and kill it.
do the opposite.
instead: Delegate the things that you are good at.
I know this sounds really strange … so let me explain.
the things that are the EASIEST to delegate are the things you are already good at. you know how do those things really well. you might already be an expert in them. you can break down these things well. you can also hire for these things.
so delegating these functions will, for sure, have the highest success rate.
if you are a great engineer, who do you think you will be better at hiring — other great engineers or great salespeople?
the answer is obvious — you will likely hire super engineers and very mediocre salespeople.
so the first thing you should always delegate are the things you are best at.
I cannot stress this enough.
you even see it in all great companies – they rarely get great in things that are not traits of their founders.
for instance, Marc Benioff is the world’s best software marketers. he was an amazing software marketer ever before he started Salesforce. he’s incredible. he’s hired great marketers and delegated to them. Salesforce continues to be great at marketing.
but Marc Benioff is not a great UI/UX person. while he’s been able to acquire great UI/UX people through acquisitions over the years (Stuart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, is one of the world’s greatest), the Salesforce product still suffers from having one of the worst UI experiences.
and guess what? it hasn’t mattered.
it is better that Benioff focused on his strengths.
you should focus on your strengths too — you cannot be all things to all people. focus on being great at just a few things.
let’s look at the napkin graph (above).
on the y-axis is things you are good and things you are bad at. the x-axis is things you love to do and things you really hate doing.
when you get a chance, try to fill out these quadrants for yourself.
the easy thing is to delegate as much as possible on the things you are already good at.
build systems to make delegation easier. hire super talented people and work on up-leveling them.
now you have two other buckets left.
for the things you like to do but are not yet good at … work on investing in yourself. get a coach. read. learn. try a few different things (and know that you will fail). while it is unlikely you will ever become great at these things … you can get yourself to good. once you are good, you can better effectively delegate (and hire).
now there are things that you are bad at and you also do not like doing. my advice in this quadrant is to do everything possible to get leverage through APIs or software … or maybe you do not need to do them at all. remember, you don’t have to do everything to have a super company. there can be many functions that you either outsource or just not do.
the great thing is that the number of vendors you can choose from is growing exponentially. you have amazing choices.
the number one skill to have in the next 20 years is the ability to select and manage vendors — almost every company now has more vendors than employees.
(3) Do the opposite of “smart” people
take a look at what the smart people around you are doing … and do the opposite.
most smart people optimize for the mid-term.Continue reading