Apr 102014

Understanding the Drivers of Success

Understanding the Drivers of Success

Although generally business is great at Return Path  and by almost any standard in the world has been consistently strong over the years, as everyone internally knows, the second part of 2012 and most of 2013 were not our finest years/quarters.  We had a number of challenges scaling our business, many of which have since been addressed and improved significantly.

When I step back and reflect on “what went wrong” in the quarters where we came up short of our own expectations, I can come up with lots of specific answers around finer points of execution, and even a few abstracted ones around our industry, solutions, team, and processes.  But one interesting answer I came up with recently was that the reason we faltered a bit was that we didn’t clearly understand the drivers of success in our business in the 1-2 years prior to things getting tough.  And when I reflect back on our entire 14+ year history, I think that pattern has repeated itself a few times, so I’m going to conclude there’s something to it.

What does that mean?  Well, a rising tide — success in your company — papers over a lot of challenges in the business, things that probably aren’t working well that you ignore because the general trend, numbers, and success are there.  Similarly, a falling tide — when the going gets a little tough for you — quickly reveals the cracks in the foundation.

In our case, I think that while some of our success in 2010 and 2011 was due to our product, service, team, etc. — there were two other key drivers.  One was the massive growth in social media and daily deal sites (huge users of email), which led to more rapid customer acquisition and more rapid customer expansion coupled with less customer churn.  The second was the fact that the email filtering environment was undergoing a change, especially at Gmail and Yahoo, which caused more problems and disruption for our clients’ email programs than usual — the sweet spot of our solution.

While of course you always want to make hay while the sun shines, in both of these cases, a more careful analysis, even WHILE WE WERE MAKING HAY, would have led us to the conclusion that both of those trends were not only potentially short-term, but that the end of the trend could be a double negative — both the end of a specific positive (lots of new customers, lots more market need), and the beginning of a BROADER negative (more customer churn, reduced market need).

What are we going to do about this?  I am going to more consistently apply one of our learning principles, the Post-Mortem  -THE ART OF THE POST-MORTEM, to more general business performance issues instead of specific activities or incidents.  But more important, I am going to make sure we do that when things are going well…not just when the going gets tough.

What are the drivers of success in your business?  What would happen if they shifted tomorrow?

Filed under: Business, Return Path

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Mar 062014

Open Vacation

At Return Path, we’ve had an “open vacation” policy for years, meaning that we don’t regulate the amount of time off people take, and we don’t accrue for it or pay out “unused” vacation if someone leaves the company.  I get asked about this all the time, so I thought I’d post our policy here and also answer a couple follow-up questions I usually get about it.

First, here’s the language of our policy:

Paid Time Off

You’re encouraged to take as much time off as you can while maintaining high performance and achieving your goals. We don’t count the hours you work, so why should we count the hours you don’t? (Unless you’re a non-exempt employee, and only then because we have to!) Take what you need, when you can, and make sure to arrange coverage with your team. If you haven’t had a vacation in a while, you can expect to get a friendly nudge from your manager to get away from the office!

Use your Paid Time Off (PTO) for planned vacations, days off for appointments, religious, or personal holidays that are not offered in your country, community service days, or if you need an unanticipated, last-minute day off to care for a sick child or family member. Statutory or legally protected leaves of absence, such as medical leave, maternity/parental leave, family medical leave or unpaid leave, are governed by separate regulations that will not be affected by our PTO policy. See the Regional section for a list of statutory leaves of absence in your country.

Paid Time Off scheduling is subject to approval by your manager, who has sole discretion to approve or deny requests under this policy. Requests of greater than two consecutive weeks or more than two weeks in one three-month period require approval of your Executive Committee member.

The first question I always get is, “Wow – does that really work?  What issues have you had with it?  My response:

No issues with it at all, other than it’s a little weird to apply internationally, where we have 50 people across 7 countries, since most of those countries have significantly more generous vacation policies/customs than the US.  But we generally make it work.

The second question I get is whether people abuse it or not:

In all the years we’ve done it, we only ever had one person attempt to abuse the policy, one time.  People do still have to ask their managers if it’s ok to take time off, and they do still have to get their jobs done.

Finally, people ask me for general advice on implementing this kind of policy:

Continue to track days off and generate reports for managers every quarter so they at least know whether their people are taking not enough or too much – generally people will take not enough, and you will need to encourage them to take more.  Also, our managers were *really* worried about launching this, so we had to do some hand-holding along the way. 

The results of this policy for us have generally been great.  People take about the same amount of true vacation they used to take, maybe a little more.  They definitely take more half-days and quarter-days where they probably still get a full day worth of work done, without worrying about counting the hours.  Best of all, there’s a strong signal sent and received with this kind of policy that we trust our team members to do what they need to do in order to live their lives AND get their jobs done.

Jan 302014

New New Employee Training

Years ago, my co-founder Jack and I developed a training presentation to give to new employees who were not just new to Return Path but also new to the workforce.  This is another one of those things, like my last post on our sabbatical policy, that people ask me for all the time.

Bringing new people into the workforce is different from just bringing new people into an organization.  I know I got a huge amount of value in my first job in management consulting from just learning how to go to work every day and how to be successful professionally.  The process you need to go through is like Onboarding, but on steroids.

Not everyone has parents or older siblings or role models who work in business — or for that matter, who focus on any kind of workplace mentoring.  It may sound dumb, but even things like showing up on time for work, what to wear, and how to meet with your manager aren’t necessarily obvious even to smart and well-intentioned 21-year olds.

So with the caveats that it’s a little dated as is, and that it’s more relevant to the kind of company we are at Return Path (e.g., we serve business clients), here’s a SlideShare version of the presentation.



Feel free to plagiarize, customize, and share it from here if you’re interested.

Jan 022014

Sabbaticals

I’ve written a few times over the years about our Sabbatical policy at Return Path, including this post and this post about my experience as CEO when one of my direct reports was on his sabbatical, and this post about my own sabbatical.

People ask me this all the time, so I thought I’d write the policy out here.  This is the language in our employee handbook about them:

You have big dreams. We know. This is your chance to cross something off your life list. Whether it’s climbing Mt. Everest, learning Russian or taking your kids across the country in a Winnebago, we believe in rewarding longevity at Return Path and know that a good long break will leave you refreshed and energized!  As such, you are eligible for a sabbatical after your first seven (7) years of employment; then again after every five (5) years incremental employment. The sabbatical provides you with up to six (6) weeks of consecutive time off provided you have that time off approved by your manager at least two months prior to the start of your sabbatical.

You will be requested to sign an Agreement before your sabbatical: if you do not return to work after your sabbatical or if you leave employment within twelve (12) months of returning to work, you will be required to reimburse all amounts received while on sabbatical.  If a holiday occurs on any of of the days of absence, you will not receive holiday pay in addition to your sabbatical pay.  During your sabbatical, your benefits will continue and you will be responsible for making payments for the employee portion of insurance costs if applicable. The period you are on leave will be counted as employment for the purposes of determining your applicable level of benefits.  If you are eligible and have not taken your sabbatical and your employment with Return Path ends (for any reason), you will not be paid out for sabbatical time not taken.

I also wrote an email recently to someone internally that is worth reprinting here, which is How to Prepare for Your Sabbatical, which is aimed at both the person taking the sabbatical, and the person’s manager:

As the employee:

-          Prepare your team

  • Make sure their goals and metrics for your time out are super clear
  • Make sure they know who to go to for what
  • Set their expectations of management coverage (see below). 
  • Remember that your manager has a day job so you should look to see how your team members can take over some of the responsibilities.
  • Give them stretch goals while you’re out

-          Prepare your individual contributor work

  • Hand off all loose ends with extra details. 
  • Make introductions via email if your manager/team member  is going to have to work with external parties
  • Can be to your team, to your manager, to someone else

-          Prepare your manager

  • Brief your manager thoroughly on everything going on with your team, its work, your individual contributor work
  • Good topics to cover with your manager:Discuss specifics of team and 1:1 check-ins and agree on a plan for coverage.
    • What are the big initiatives that you’ll need coverage on
    • Which team members would you like the manager to spend a little extra time with?  Are there any work you would like the manager to help a particular EE with?

-          Prepare yourself

  • Plan any personal travel early so you get good rates!
  • Figure out how to keep your work and personal communications separate – your email (autoresponder, routing, disabling from your smartphone), your voicemail if you use Google Voice or Simulscribe, etc.
  • Block out two full days immediately when you return to catch up on email and catch up with your manager and team

As the manager:

-          Prepare your team

  • Make sure the rest of your team knows your time will be compromised while you’re covering
  • Figure out what kind of coverage you need (either internal or external) while you’re covering

-          Rearrange your calendar/travel

  • Add new team meetings or 1:1s as it makes sense.  You don’t have to do exactly what your employee did, but some portions of it will make sense to pick up
  • If your employee works in another office with members of his/her team, you might want to plan some travel there to cover in person
  • It’s ok to cut back on some other things a bit while you’re covering – just remember to undo everything when the employee’s sabbatical is over

-          While you’re in charge

  • Surprise your employee with how much you were able to keep things running in his/her absence!
  • Learn as much as you can by doing bits and pieces of his/her job.  This is a great opportunity of the employee to get some value from a fresh perspective.

-          Prepare for your employee’s return

  • Keep a running tab of everything that goes on at the company, critical industry news (if appropriate), and with your employee’s function or team and prepare a well-organized briefing document so your employee can hit the ground running when he/she returns
  • Block out an hour or two each of the employee’s first two days back to review your briefing document

 

My main takeaway from this post?  I am overdue my second sabbatical, and it’s time to start thinking about that!

Dec 052013

Onboarding vs. Waterboarding

Onboarding vs. Waterboarding

One of our new senior hires just said to me the other day that he has been enjoying his Onboarding process during his first 90 days at Return Path and that at other companies he’s worked at in the past, the first few months were more like Waterboarding.

At Return Path, we place a lot of emphasis on onboarding – the way we ask employees to spend their first 90 days on the job.  I’ve often said that the hiring process doesn’t end on the employee’s first day.  I think about the employee’s first day as the mid-point of the hiring process. The things that come after the first day — orientation (where’s the bathroom?), context-setting (here’s our mission, here’s how your job furthers it), goal setting (what’s your 90-day plan?), and a formal check-in 90 days later — are all make-or-break in terms of integrating a new employee into the organization, making sure they’re a good hire, and making them as productive as possible.

Nothing has a greater impact on a hire’s long-term viability than a thorough Onboarding. Sure, you have to get the right people in the door. But if you don’t onboard them properly, they may never work out. This is where all companies, big and small, fail most consistently.  Remember your first day of work? Did you (or anyone at the company) know where you were supposed to sit? Did you (or anyone at the company) know if your computer was set up? Did you (or anyone at the company) have a project ready for you to start on? Did you (or anyone at the company) know when you’d be able to meet your manager? Probably not.

Take onboarding much more seriously, and you’ll be astounded by the results. We have a Manager of Onboarding whose only job is to manage the first 90 days of every employee’s experience. You don’t need to go that far (and won’t be able to until you’ve scaled well past 100 employees), but here are some things you can, and must, do to assure a successful onboarding process:

1. Start onboarding before Day 1. Just as recruitment doesn’t end until Day 90, onboarding starts before Day 1. At Return Path, we ask people to create a “Wall Bio” – a one-page collage of words and images that introduces them to the team – before their first day. It’s a quick introduction to our company culture, and something the rest of our team looks forward to seeing as new people join. Your project can be different, but it’s important to get new hires engaged even before their first day.

2. Set up your new hire’s desk in advance. There is nothing more dispiriting than spending your first day at new job chasing down keyboards and trying to figure out your phone extension. We go to the opposite extreme. When a new hire walks in the door at Return Path, their desk is done. Their computer, monitor and telephone are set up. There’s a nameplate on their office or cube. They’ve got a full set of company gear (T-shirt, tote, etc.). To show how excited we are, we even include a bottle of champagne and a handwritten note from me welcoming them to the company. In the early days of the business, we even had the champagne delivered to the employee’s home after they accepted the offer. (That didn’t scale well, particularly outside of New York City.)

3. Prepare an orientation deck for Day 1. There are certain things about your company that new hires will learn as they go along: nuances of culture, pacing, etc. But there are some things that should be made explicit right away. What is the company’s mission? What are its values? How is the organization structured? What is the current strategic plan? These details are common to every employee, and all new hires should hear them—preferably from the CEO. You can present these details one-on-one to your direct reports, or do larger in-office sessions to groups of new hires over breakfast or lunch.

4. Clearly set 90-day objectives and goals. Other details are going to be specific to an employee’s position. What’s their job description (again)? What are the first steps they should take? Resources they should know about? People they should meet? Training courses to enroll in? Materials to read and subscribe to? Finally, and most importantly, what are the major objectives for their first 90 days? They shouldn’t spend their first quarter “feeling around.” They should spend it actively and intentionally working toward a clear goal.

5. Run a review process at the end of 90 days. Whether you do a 360 review or a one-way performance review, the 90-day mark is a really good point to pull up and assess whether the new hire is working out and fitting culturally as well. It’s much easier to admit a mistake at this point and part ways while the recruiting process is still somewhat fresh than it is months down the road after you’ve invested more and more in the new hire.

With that, the hiring process is done. Now, repeat.

[Note:  this post contains some passages excerpted from my book, Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, published by Wiley & Sons earlier this fall.]

Nov 212013

Debunking the Myth of Hiring for Domain Expertise vs. Functional Expertise

Debunking the Myth of Hiring for Domain Expertise vs. Functional Expertise

As a CEO scaling your business, you’ll invariably want to hire in new senior people from the outside.  Even if you promote aggressively from within, if you’re growing quickly enough, you’ll just need more bodies.  And if you’re growing really fast, you will be missing experience from your employee base that you’ll need to augment.

For years, I’ve thought and heard that there’s a basic tradeoff in hiring senior people — you can hire someone with great domain expertise, or you can hire someone with great functional expertise, but it’s almost impossible to find both in the same person, so you need to figure out which is more important to you.  Would I rather hire someone who knows the X business, or someone who is a great Head of X?  Over the course of the last year, I’ve added four new senior executives to the team at Return Path, and to some extent, I’ve hired people with deep functional expertise but limited domain expertise.  Part of that has been driven by the fact that we are now one of the larger companies in the email space, so finding people who have “been there, done that” in email is challenging.

But the amount of senior hiring I’ve done recently has mostly shown me that the “domain vs. functional” framework, while probably accurate, is misleading if you think of it as the most important thing you have to consider when hiring in senior people from the outside.

What’s more important is finding people who have experience working at multiple growth stages in their prior jobs, ideally the scaling stage that you’re at as a business.  It makes sense if you stop and think about it.  If your challenge is SCALING YOUR BUSINESS, then find someone who has DONE THAT before, or at least find someone who has worked at both small companies and larger companies before.  I suppose that means you care more about functional expertise than domain expertise, but it’s an important distinction.

Looking for a new industrial-strength CFO for your suddenly large business?  Sure, you can hire someone from a Fortune 500 company.  But if that person has never worked in a startup or growth stage company, you may get someone fluent in Greek when you speak Latin.  He or she will show up on the first day expecting certain processes to be in place, certain spreadsheets to be perfect, certain roles to be filled.  And some of them won’t be.  The big company executive may freeze like a deer caught in the headlights, whereas the stage-versatile executive will invariably roll up his or her sleeves and fix the spreadsheet, rewrite the process, hire the new person.  That’s what scaling needs to feel like.

Sep 192013

The Boomerang Club, or How to Quit Your Job, Part II

The Boomerang Club, or How to Quit Your Job, Part II

My post last week on How to Quit Your Job has generated about two dozen comments as well as a really lengthy thread on Y Combinator’s Hacker News.  My various replies to comments are worth summarizing here – this is a reprint of my comment on Hacker News:

First, my post was not intended to be general advice to employees of all companies on how to handle a situation where they’re starting to look for jobs.  Of course, many environments would not respond well to that approach.  My point was just that that’s how we encourage employees to handle the situation at Return Path, and we have created a safe environment to do so.  By the way, it doesn’t happen here 100% of the time either, by any stretch of the imagination.  But I wish it did.  When it happens, it’s better for everyone — the company as well as the employee, who either (a) ends up staying because we resolve some issue we weren’t aware of, or (b) has a less stressful and more graceful transition out.

Second, the way we run our business is around a bit of a social contract — that is to say, a two-way street.  And just as we ask employees to start a dialog with us when they are thinking of leaving, we absolutely, 100% of the time, are open and transparent with employees when they are in danger of being fired (other than the occasional urgent “for cause” situation).  We give people ample opportunity to correct performance and even fit issues.  In terms of someone’s question below about lay-offs, we fortunately haven’t had to do those since 2001, but if I recall, even then, we were extremely transparent about our financial position and that we might need to cut jobs in 30 days.

But I wanted to take this post to emphasize a related, second point.  If it’s a given that you are going to quit your job, then HOW you quit your job becomes super important.  And this is general advice, not something specific to Return Path.  Even if you’re unhappy – even if you feel totally wronged or burned in some way – there is never a good reason to burn bridges on the way out the door.  In fact, the opposite is what I would consider best practice:  make the transition as easy as possible for your company.

Document your job really well, including specifics of all open projects.  Work with your manager and teammates to hand off all responsibilities.  Be frank and constructive in your exit interview.  Make the extra effort to leave things in good working order.

We have a long history of hiring back former employees here.  We proudly call it The Boomerang Club, and there have been a dozen or so members over the years.  We try to make it easy to come back if you leave.  First, we celebrate the return of a former employee pretty widely, and we obviously modify our usual extensive interview process.  If you come back in less than a year, we pretend that you never left in terms of giving you credit for continuous service.  If your gap is more than a year, we don’t give you credit for the time you were gone, but we do give you full credit for the time you’d been here before you left.

But you can’t really be a member of The Boomerang Club if you leave your job in the wrong way.  HOW you do that says a lot about you, and everyone at your company will take note and remember it.

Sep 132013

How to Quit Your Job

How to Quit Your Job

I sent an email out to ALL at Return Path a few years ago with that as the subject line.  A couple people suggested it would make a good blog post in and of itself.  So here’s the full text of it:

ALL –

This may be one of the weirdest emails you’ll see me (or any CEO write)…but it’s an important message that I want to make sure everyone hears consistently.  If nothing else, the subject line will probably generate a high open rate.  :-)

First off, I hope no one here wants to leave Return Path.  I am realistic enough to know that’s not possible, but as you know, employee engagement, retention, and growth & development are incredibly important to us.

But alas, there will be times when for whatever reason, some of you may decide it’s time to move on.  I have always maintained that there’s more than a Right Way and a Wrong Way to leave a job.  For me, there’s a Return Path Way.

I suppose the Right Way is the standard out there in the world of two weeks’ notice and an orderly documentation and transition of responsibilities.  The Wrong Way is anything less.

So what’s the Return Path Way?

It starts with open dialog.  If you are contemplating looking around for something else, you should let someone know at the thinking stage.  Ideally that would be your manager, but if you’re not comfortable starting the conversation there, find someone else — your department head, someone in HR, me.  Let someone who is in a position to do something about it know that you’re considering other options and why.  The worst thing that will happen is that the company isn’t able to come up with a solution to whatever issues you have.  I PROMISE you that no one here in any management position will ever think less of you or treat you differently or serve up any kind of retribution for this kind of conversation.

After the open dialog and any next steps that come out of it, if you are still convinced that leaving is the right thing for you, tell your manager and whoever you spoke to at the beginning of your search process, not at the end of it.  That hopefully gives the company enough lead time to find a replacement and provide for enough overlap between you and the new hire so that you can train your replacement and hand things off.

Why do we feel so strongly about this?

We invest heavily in our people.  I know we’re not perfect — no company is — but we do our best to take good care with everyone who works here.  Hopefully you know that.  And hiring great people is difficult, as you also know.  Losing a well trained employee is VERY PAINFUL for the company.  It slows our momentum and causes at least a minor level of chaos in the system.  And as shareholders or future shareholders (even if you leave – you can exercise your vested stock options), I’d hope that’s something none of you want to do.

I realize the Return Path Way that I am outlining here is unconventional (and potentially uncomfortable).  But Return Path is an unconventional place to work in a lot of ways.

As I said up front, I hope none of you wants to leave…but if you do, please take this request and advice to heart.

Thank you!

-Matt

Now…I sent this out when the company was a lot smaller, when losing a single employee was losing a real percentage of our workforce!  But I stand by every word in the email, even at a larger size.  This kind of dialog is, as I note in the email, both unconventional and uncomfortable.  But just as one of my management mantras here is “no one should ever be surprised to be fired,” another is “we should never be surprised when someone resigns.”  Ultimately, it’s up to each individual manager to set the right tone with his or her team, and also be in tune enough with each of his or her team members, to foster this.

Sep 032013

Startup CEO (OnlyOnce- the book!), Part IV – Book Launches Today!

Startup CEO (OnlyOnce- the book!), Part IV – Book Launches Today!

My book is officially on sale on Amazon and iTunes today.  The full detailed outline is here if you’re interested, and the link to buy it is here.

This is very exciting.  I had been saying for a while that I had no idea whether 50 people would buy it or 5,000, but the publisher (Wiley) tells me we had over 2,000 pre-orders, so that’s a great start, at least.

So thanks to those 2,000 brave souls, and anyone else who buys it as well.  I hope you enjoy it and look forward to your feedback directly, via OnlyOnce, via the #StartupCEO hashtag, via a rating/review on Amazon, or via the Startup Revolution web site.

I hope to get back to more regular blogging soon.  As you hay have noted, I’ve been more quiet than usual the last six months while writing the book.  But I have lots of great posts stored up…

Jul 092013

Startup CEO (OnlyOnce- the book!), Part III – Pre-Order Now

Startup CEO (OnlyOnce – the book!), Part III – Pre-Order Now

My book, Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business, is now available for pre-order on Amazon in multiple formats (Print, Kindle), which is an exciting milestone in this project!  The book is due out right after Labor Day, but Brad Feld tells me that the more pre-orders I have, the better.  Please pardon the self-promotion, but click away if you’re interested!

Here are a few quick thoughts about the book, though I’ll post more about it and the process at some point:

  • I’ll be using the hashtag #startupceo more now to encourage discussion of topics related to startup CEOs – please join me!
  • The book has been described by a few CEOs who read it and commented early for me along the lines of “The Lean Startup movement is great, but this book starts where most of those books end and takes you through the ‘so you have a product that works in-market – now what?’ questions”
  • The book is part of the Startup Revolution series that Brad has been working on for a couple years now, including Do More (Even) Faster, Venture Deals, Startup Communities, and Startup Life (with two more to come, Startup Boards and Startup Metrics)
  • Writing a book is a LOT harder than I expected!

At this point, the best thing I can do to encourage you to read/buy is to share the full and final table of contents with you, sections/chapters/headings.  When I get closer in, I may publish some excerpts of new content here on Only Once.  Here’s the outline:

Part I: Storytelling

  • Chapter 1: Dream the Possible Dream…Entrepreneurship and Creativity, “A Faster Horse,” Vetting Ideas
  • Chapter 2: Defining and Testing the Story…Start Out By Admitting You’re Wrong, A Lean Business Plan Template, Problem, Solution, Key Metrics, Unique Value Proposition and Unfair Advantages, Channels, Customer Segments, Cost Structure and Revenue Streams
  • Chapter 3: Telling the Story to Your Investors…The Business Plan is Dead. Long Live the Business Plan, The Investor Presentation, The Elevator Pitch, The Size of the Opportunity, Your Competitive Advantage, Current Status and Roadmap from Today, The Strength of Your Team, Summary Financials, Investor Presentations for Larger Startups
  • Chapter 4: Telling the Story to Your Team…Defining Your Mission, Vision and Values, The Top-down Approach, The Bottom-Up Approach, The Hybrid Approach, Design a Lofty Mission Statement
  • Chapter 5: Revising the Story…Workshopping, Knowing When It’s Time to Make a Change, Corporate Pivots: Telling the Story Differently, Consolidating, Diversifying, Focusing, Business Pivots: Telling a Different Story
  • Chapter 6: Bringing the Story to Life…Building Your Company Purposefully, The Critical Elements of Company-Building, Articulating Purpose:  The Moral of the Story, You Can Be a Force for Helping Others—Even If Indirectly

Part II: Building the Company’s Human Capital

  • Chapter 7: Fielding a Great Team…From Protozoa to Pancreas, The Best and the Brightest, What About HR?, What About Sales & Marketing?, Scaling Your Team Over Time
  • Chapter 8: The CEO as Functional Supervisor…Rules for General Managers
  • Chapter 9: Crafting Your Company’s Culture…, Introducing Fig Wasp #879, Six Legs and a Pair of Wings, Let People Be People, Build an Environment of Trust
  • Chapter 10: The Hiring Challenge…Unique Challenges for Startups, Recruiting Outstanding Talent, Staying “In-Market”, Recruitment Tools, The Interview: Filtering Potential Candidates, Two Ears One Mouth, Who Should You Interview?, Onboarding: The First 90 Days
  • Chapter 11: Every Day in Every Way, We Get a Little Better…The Feedback Matrix, 1:1 Check-ins, “Hallway” Feedback, Performance Reviews, The 360, Soliciting Feedback on Your Own Performance, Crafting and Meeting Development Plans      
  • Chapter 12: Compensation…General Guidelines for Determining Compensation, The Three Elements of Startup Compensation, Base Pay, Incentive Pay, Equity              
  • Chapter 13: Promoting                …Recruiting from Within, Applying the “Peter Principle” to Management, Scaling Horizontally, Promoting Responsibilities Rather than Swapping Titles               
  • Chapter 14: Rewarding: “It’s the Little Things” That Matter…It Never Goes Without Saying, Building a Culture of Appreciation
  • Chapter 15: Managing Remote Offices and Employees…Brick and Mortar Values in a Virtual World, Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees
  • Chapter 16: Firing: When It’s Not Working…No One Should Ever Be Surprised to Be Fired, Termination and the Limits of Transparency, Layoffs

Part III: Execution

  • Chapter 17: Creating a Company Operating System…Creating Company Rhythms, A Marathon? Or a Sprint?
  • Chapter 18: Creating Your Operating Plan and Setting Goals…Turning Strategic Plans into Operating Plans, Financial Planning, Bringing Your Team into Alignment with Your Plans, Guidelines for Setting Goals
  • Chapter 19: Making Sure There’s Enough Money in the Bank…Scaling Your Financial Instincts, Boiling the Frog, To Grow or to Profit? That Is the Question, First Perfect the Model, Choosing Growth, Choosing Profits, The Third Way
  • Chapter 20: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Financing…Equity Investors, Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Strategic Investors, Debt, Convertible Debt, Venture Debt, Bank Loans, Personal Debt, Bootstrapping, Customer Financing, Your Own Cash Flow
  • Chapter 21: When and How to Raise Money…When to Start Looking for VC Money, The Top 11 Takeaways for Financing Negotiations
  • Chapter 22: Forecasting and Budgeting…Rigorous Financial Modeling, Of Course You’re Wrong—But Wrong How?, Budgeting in a Context of Uncertainty, Forecast, Early and Often
  • Chapter 23: Collecting Data…External Data, Learning from Customers, Learning from (Un)Employees, Internal Data, Skip-Level Meetings, Subbing, Productive Eavesdropping
  • Chapter 24: Managing in Tough Times…Managing in an Economic Downturn, Hope Is Not a Strategy—But It’s Not a Bad Tactic, Look for Nickels and Dimes under the Sofa, Never Waste a Good Crisis, Managing in a Difficult Business Situation
  • Chapter 25: Meeting Routines…Lencioni’s Meeting Framework, Skip-Level Meetings, Running a Productive Offsite
  • Chapter 26: Driving Alignment…Five Keys to Startup Alignment, Aligning Individual Incentives with Global Goals
  • Chapter 27: Have You Learned Your Lesson?…The Value (and Limitations) of Benchmarking, The Art of the Post-Mortem
  • Chapter 28: Going Global…Should Your Business Go Global?, How to Establish a Global Presence, Overcoming the Challenges of Going Global, Best Practices for Managing International Offices and Employees
  • Chapter 29: The Role of M&A…Using Acquisitions as a Tool in Your Strategic Arsenal, The Mechanics of Financing and Closing Acquisitions, Stock, Cash, Earn Out, The Flipside of M&A: Divestiture, Odds and Ends, Integration (and Separation)
  • Chapter 30: Competition…Playing Hardball, Playing Offense vs. Playing Defense, Good and Bad Competitors
  • Chapter 31: Failure…Failure and the Startup Model, Failure Is Not an Orphan

Part IV: Building and Leading a Board of Directors

  • Chapter 32: The Value of a Good Board…Why Have a Board?, Everybody Needs a Boss, The Board as Forcing Function, Pattern Matching, Forests, Trees, Honest Discussion and Debate
  • Chapter 33: Building Your Board…What Makes a Great Board Member?, Recruiting a Board Member, Compensating Your Board, Boards as Teams, Structuring Your Board, Board Size, Board Committees, Chairing the Board, Running a Board Feedback Process, Building an Advisory Board
  • Chapter 34: Board Meeting Materials…“The Board Book”, Sample Return Path Board Book, The Value of Preparing for Board Meetings
  • Chapter 35: Running Effective Board Meetings…Scheduling Board Meetings, Building a Forward-Looking Agenda, In-Meeting Materials, Protocol, Attendance and Seating, Device-Free Meetings, Executive and Closed Sessions
  • Chapter 36: Non-Board Meeting Time…Ad Hoc Meetings, Pre-Meetings, Social Outings
  • Chapter 37: Decision-Making and the Board…The Buck Stops—Where?, Making Difficult Decisions in Concert, Managing Conflict with Your Board
  • Chapter 38: Working with the Board on Your Compensation and Review…The CEO’s Performance Review, Your Compensation, Incentive Pay, Equity, Expenses
  • Chapter 39: Serving on Other Boards…The Basics of Serving on Other Boards, Substance, or Style?

Part V: Managing Yourself So You Can Manage Others

  • Chapter 40: Creating a Personal Operating System…Managing Your Agenda, Managing Your Calendar, Managing Your Time, Feedback Loops
  • Chapter 41: Working with an Executive Assistant…Finding an Executive Assistant, What an Executive Assistant Does
  • Chapter 42: Working with a Coach…The Value of Executive Coaches, Areas Where an Executive Coach Can Help
  • Chapter 43: The Importance of Peer Groups…The Gang of Six, Problem-Solving in Tandem
  • Chapter 44: Staying Fresh…Managing the Highs and Lows, Staying Mentally Fresh, At Your Company, Out and About, Staying Healthy, Me Time
  • Chapter 45: Your Family…Making Room for Home Life, Involving Family in Work, Bringing Work Principles Home
  • Chapter 46: Traveling…Sealing the Deal with a Handshake, Making the Most of Travel Time, Staying Disciplined on the Road
  • Chapter 47: Taking Stock of the Year…Celebrating “Yes”; Addressing “No”, Are You Having Fun?, Are You Learning and Growing as a Professional?, Is It Financially Rewarding?, Are You Making an Impact?
  • Chapter 48:  A Note on Exits…Five Rules of Thumb for Successfully Selling Your Company

 If you’re still with me and interested, again here are the links to pre-order (Print, Kindle).

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