June 21, 2012

Running a Productive Offsite

Running a Productive Offsite A couple OnlyOnce readers asked me to do a post on how I run senior team offsites.  It’s a great part of our management meeting routine at Return Path, and one that Patrick Lencioni talks about extensively in Death by Meeting (review, book) – a book worth reading if you care about this topic. My senior team has four offsites per year.  I love them.  They are, along with my Board meetings, my favorite times of the year at work.  Here’s my formula for these meetings: –          WHY:  There are a few purposes to our offsites.  One for us is that our senior team is geographically distributed across 4 geographies at the executive level and 6 or 7 at the broader management team level.  So for us, these are the only times of the year that we are actually in the same place.  But even if we were all in one place, we’d still do them.  The main purpose of the offsite is to pull up from the day-to-day and tackle strategic issues or things that just require more uninterrupted time.  The secondary purpose is to continue to build and develop the team, both personal relationships and […]


January 23, 2012

Scaling the Team

Scaling the Team (This post was requested by my long-time Board member Fred Wilson and is also running concurrently on his blog today.  I’ll be back with the third and fourth installments of “The Best Laid Plans” next Thursday and the following Thursday) When Return Path reached 100 employees a few years back, I had a dinner with my Board one night at which they basically told me, “Management teams never scale intact as you grow the business.  Someone always breaks.”  I’m sure they were right based on their own experience; I, of course, took this as a challenge.  And […]


February 22, 2010

From Founder/Builder to Manager/Leader

From Founder/Builder to Manager/Leader After I spoke at the Startup2Startup event last month, one of the people who sat with me at dinner emailed me and asked: I was curious–how did you make the transition from CEO of a startup to manager of a medium-sized business? I’m great at just doing the work myself and interacting with clients, and it’s easy for me to delegate tasks, but it’s hard to have the vision and ability to develop my two employees into greater capacity… I’d be interested in reading a blog post on what helped you make that transition from founder/builder […]


December 7, 2009

Book Short: Innovation and Discipline

Book Short:  Innovation and Discipline The Puritan Gift, by Kenneth and William Hopper, is a bit of a mixed bag.  The authors have a wonderful point to make — that American businesses have thrived over the centuries due to a mix of innovation and discipline that descended from the country’s Puritan roots, and that when they lose their way, it’s because they diverge from those roots.  The book is also an interesting, if somewhat cursory, history of American industry.  And it playfully debunks some great myths of corporate American life over the last 50 years.  But the book has a […]