In my new capacity as an EIR at Balderton Capital, I recently gave a presentation to a leadership meeting at a high-growth, Balderton-backed startup offering my perspectives on growth and the challenges that come with it.
I discussed these five challenges:
- Next-levelitis, an obsessive focus on scaling everything to the next level. (Which is great if not overdone.)
- Absorbing new leaders, (aka, “FBI guys”) and the challenges that come when hiring the wrong next-level people and they blow themselves up at the start.
- Conflation of regional culture and opinion, a common problem in international expansion. (What’s a bona fide regional difference vs. a difference of opinion masked as one?)
- Missing an opportunity that you want (aka, getting “passed over” for a promotion) and what to do about it.
- Getting things wrong to get other things right. Startups are 100% about getting what matters right. Which begs the question, what matters?
The slide deck is below.
By the way, you have to watch the referenced Die Hard videos; they do a superb job of portraying what it feels like in these situations:
“I’m Dwayne Robinson … and I’m in charge here.”
“Not any more.”
The good people of Costanoa Ventures invited me to speak at their summit where they gather portfolio company CEOs to participate in an impressive set of sessions related to building and scaling startups. I was honored to be in the company of friends and respected colleagues like Nick Mehta and Rob Reid as presenters at the conference.
Costanoa asked me to speak about un-learning at this year’s un-summit and, as a (sometimes, some might say frequent) contrarian, I was only too happy to do so. The slides from the presentation are below. I focused on 4 topics:
- The sensible application of the popular Silicon Valley adage, “the folks who got you here aren’t the ones who will get you to the next level,” and how to reconcile it with an older, even more popular adage: “dance with who brung ya.”
- Generalizing the next-level adage beyond people to systems, processes, and operational strategies.
- Things to do and pitfalls to avoid in recruiting next-level executives, with a particular focus on avoiding very successful people caught in the lather/rinse/repeat trap.
- Critically thinking whether you have been successful because of, in spite of, or independent of a list of your company’s practices, values, and deeply held beliefs
This slides are here and embedded below.
Thanks to Greg Sands, Martina Lauchengco, and Rachel Quon for inviting me and giving me such a great topic to work with.