Food For Founders #33
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|Stephen Alred Jr.||Apr 5, 2019|
This section is meant to help you grow as a leader, manager, or entrepreneur.
Jonathan Golden is a former Director of Product at AirBnB. In this article, he talks about what the company looked for when hiring candidates. How do you find entrepreneurs in the rough - or entrepreneurs without companies under their belt? The team found that if they saw a point of excellence in that candidate’s past they could envision what it would be like if the candidate was focused on being excellent within the company.
This places a lot of pressure on the founders and leaders of an organization to cast a vision that is both invigorating and challenging. If it doesn’t touch a place in their heart and minds, they may not go the extra mile to support the mission. On the hand, if you only solve for skillset, you may get a cog…but when you are trying to build a huge company, you don’t want cogs. You want empire builders.
Another point that Jonathan made was that by building a culture of entrepreneurship, you also have to enact a culture of accountability. While anyone may come up with an idea that is heard by the higher-ups, it still needs to be on brand, on mission, and on priority. Otherwise, you end up with a Frankenstein-esque corporation great product with a bunch of odd missteps that don’t improve the core product (ask Evernote about this).
If you are thinking about building a great company, I would seriously consider taking notes and think about how you can adjust AirBnB’s hiring strategy to inspire your own.
This section is designed to help you improve your skills as a strategist and tactician.
Dal is a product manager at Teem, a workspace experience platform. Unfortunately, this is one of the few times I will merely say read the article.
I don’t want to write a few paragraphs of takeaways and innovative ways to process them into your organization. This piece needs to be read through because Dal takes you on a step-by-step journey of precisely what he does to build ideas into products.
I couldn’t do it justice with a 100-200 reflection piece. Take 10 minutes, read it, digest it, and write out ways you can use Dal’s process in your own product development cycles.
This section was created to introduce ideas that may not related to starting a company, yet is important to your success as a founder.
This will not be the last time you see me reference a Scott Young post. I believe many of the things he writes are great reminders on life in general…so it’s also likely you will see his posts in the “Mental Snacks” section of this newsletter. Items that may not deal with the day to day of operating your company, but may influence how you think about your company at the macro level.
I’ve written about it before. Feedback is an essential piece of life and building a company. Matter of fact, most people actively avoid it (giving and receiving) yet it is instrumental in refining all parts of your life.
Think about this, what is pain? It’s a feedback loop from your nervous system to let you know that something is wrong. My wife and I have weekly coffee dates and annual marriage summits, they are how we give feedback to each other within the construct of our marriage. It is often said that if you are competing with a like-minded startup, the company that iterates faster on VALID customer feedback is the one that will win.
Feedback is incredibly valuable, and I enjoy how Scott breaks down how to go about getting it from external sources. And yes, there is such a thing as bad or non-constructive feedback. Scales don’t really help in terms of knowing where to look for improvements. I would recommend a mix of quantitative (hard data) and qualitative (external insights and advice), but make sure when you ask, you make it worth the time of the people you are soliciting.
Otherwise, they may not take the time and mental energy to give you the kind of feedback you need to get better.
Around The Startup Ecosystem
This section was built to update you on important events, opinions, or pieces happening in the world of startups.
The reason I’m including this piece is because of the implications of this move for the startup ecosystem. If Amazon does release an AirPods competitor that has Alexa voice-control built in…this could accelerate the adoption of voice DEVELOPMENT exponentially.
As we have seen with the Apple Apps store and platforms like Zapier, If you can build an open platform that developers love they will make incredibly powerful products that draw customers in. Amazon has done a great job with what effectively was a side-project for the commerce giant. Amazon Echo was never core to Amazon’s mission, but it may be very soon.
The closer Amazon gets to a logistical titan the more that these new, Alexa-powered headphones can shift human behavior on a mass scale. Want an example? I’m riding on a subway, and I tap my ears twice, “Hey Alexa…can you have a half pineapples and half pepperoni Domino’s pizza delivered to my apartment and also a pint of my usual halo top ice cream and book my wife’s car for a tuneup on Saturday before noon.”
Then it’s done. I can see these headphones and the continuing development of the Alexa ecosystem as a reason for busy professionals to get rid of any notion of a personal assistant. Matter of fact…any personal assistant company may be in for a world of hurt within the next 24-36 months. On the professional side all it takes is for Upwork to build an Alexa skill that allows you to ask it to find the names and email addresses for all VP of Sales in your city…and then dictate the exact email to send.
This could be so much bigger than headphones. I hope you’re ready.