September 2, 2014

Startup CEO: The Online Course Part II

Startup CEO: The Online Course Part II Startup CEO the online course offered by the Kauffman Fellows Academy is back this fall starting September 15!  As many of you know, the course is based on my book Startup CEO: A Field Guide to Scaling Your Business. When the course first ran earlier this year, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Hundreds of students from six continents signed up, all eager to learn as much as they could about entrepreneurship and how to develop their startups.  The students worked together in teams to develop their startup ideas on the unique online educational platform NovoEd.  I was amazed at the enthusiasm of students who dove into lectures and the book and then exchanged ideas in the forums.  It was very powerful to see cohorts of students from all over the world sharing their experiences together, almost like the CEO peer group that I write about in the book. The real power of it really hit me when I was in Brazil  this last spring at a dinner and one of the attendees approached me and told me he was one of the Startup CEO students and how much he was enjoying the course. To bring […]


August 14, 2014

How to Manage Your Career

I gave a presentation to a few hundred Return Path employees in January at an all-hands conference we did called “How to Manager Your Career.” The presentation has three sections — The Three Phases of a Career, How to Get Promoted, and How to Wow Your Manager. While it’s not as good without the voiceover and interactivity, I thought I’d post it here…see the presentation on Slideshare. As I said to my audience, if there’s one thing to take away from the topic, it’s this: Managing your career is up to one, and only one person – you.  It doesn’t […]


March 20, 2014

Secrets to Yawn-Free Board Meetings

Secrets to Yawn-Free Board Meetings [This post first appeared as an article in Entrepreneur Magazine as part of a new series I’m publishing there in conjunction with my book, Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business] The objective of board meetings should always be to have great conversations that help you and your executive team think clearly about the issues in front of you, as well as making sure your directors have a clear and transparent view of the state of the business. These conversations come from a team dynamic that encourages productive conflict. There’s no sure-fire […]


March 6, 2014

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 […]


February 13, 2014

HR/People Lessons from Netflix

It feels as if almost everyone in our industry has read the famous Netflix culture deck on Slideshare, and with over 5mm views, that may not be too far off.  If you haven’t looked at it before, and if you care about your organization’s culture and how productive and happy employees are the best kind of employees, then take the time to flip through it. As part of a benchmarking exercise we did on employers with unique and best HR/People practices a few years ago, a few of us did either site visits or at least live interviews with leaders […]


January 30, 2014

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 […]


January 7, 2014

Startup CEO: The Online Course

As most of you know by now, I wrote a book that was published last fall called Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business.  I’m excited to announce that, starting on January 20th, the book has now been turned into Kauffman Fellows Academy (KFA) online course called Startup CEO.  Similarly, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson’s highly successful Venture Deals is also going to launch as Venture Deals KFA online course on February 24th. Both will be offered initially on the NovoEd platform. The parties involved in getting it off the ground (besides me) were the team at Kauffman Fellows Academy and NovoEd.  Clint Korver, a serial entrepreneur and Stanford adjunct professor, […]


January 2, 2014

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 […]


December 19, 2013

5 Ways to Get Your Staff on the Same Page

5 Ways to Get Your Staff on the Same Page [This post first appeared as an article in Entrepreneur Magazine as part of a new series I’m publishing there in conjunction with my book, Startup CEO:  A Field Guide to Scaling Up Your Business] When a major issue arises, is everybody at your company serving the same interests? Or is one person serving the engineering team, another person serving the sales team, one board member serving the VC fund, another serving the early-stage “angels” and another serving the CEO? If that’s the case, then your team is misaligned. No individual […]


December 5, 2013

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 […]


November 21, 2013

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 […]