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Monthly Archives: August 2007

I am a regular reader (as I am sure thousands of people are) of Marc Andreessen’s blog. He has not been blogging for that long (a couple of months at best I believe), but what he has produced in those few short months have been some of the most insightful stuff I have read in awhile.

Today’s post is short and sweet, which is not uncommon (I guess it depends on how busy he is helping run Ning or selling any other companies he owns) and it was pretty funny (and good). It was another post that is part of his guide to startups (if you have not read any of them and you are interested in starting your own company, I highly suggest you go back and read them) , and it was about hiring a professional CEO for your startup. He says:

“Don’t.

If you don’t have anyone on your founding team who is capable of being CEO, then sell your company — now.”

Very short and to the point, good advice.

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I have been a little absent from posting over the last week, it is not without reason. My wife just gave birth (last week) to our fourth child, so I have been taking time off to be with the family and get to know our new baby daughter (I know, I know, why am I posting at all, right?). This time off has given me time to reflect, and has given me time to put things in perspective.

It is great when you have an experience, whether it be personal or professional, that affords you the opportunity to just focus on that experience, allowing you to disregard all that does not directly affect that experience. When you are in that moment, it really does put things into perspective. It makes you realize what is truly important and what else can simply just wait.

In business, you have these experiences more times than you may realize, it just may be that you do not appreciate it or you do not recognize it. When you do recognize it and appreciate it, you are truly able to capitalize on the experience and make the most of it. Whether it is a product launch that has a million moving parts or it is fund raising activity, whatever the situation is, by putting everything in to perspective, it provides you the advantage of focusing on what truly matters, what is going to get you to your end goal. All the rest is just clutter, and can be put to the side. So when it seems like you are never going to reach your goal, try putting everything into perspective and double down and get the job done. Live in the moment and enjoy the experience, once it is over, you cannot get it back.

OK, so I just finished Seth Godin’s book, “The Dip” and I normally would not write another post about a book, but since it was so short a lot has stayed fresh in my mind. In keeping with the general theme of being the best, and knowing when to quit, his point on quitting before you start really stuck out. Knowing what the circumstances are for when you are willing to quit and when you are willing to quit are something that you must be aware of at all times, you must know what they are before entering into anything. Once you know what they are, stick with them at all costs. If you do not, you are only cheating yourself out of being the best, you are only distracting yourself from what it is you are truly trying to accomplish.

He references ultra marathoner Dick Collins and his take on knowing when to quit when he enters into any race. He identifies the conditions in which he is willing to quit a race, and when he finds himself in those conditions, it is an easy decision for him to make. Actually, he has already made the decision before he sets out on the race, it is simply identifying that those situations are occurring and the rest is simple. When looking at it from his perspective, it makes total sense. You certainly don’t want to be at mile 20 and have cramped legs, aching stomach and start the decision making process on whether or not you will quit. If you do, you will always talk yourself into quiting, because the temporary pain is greater than the reward at that time.

So whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, know going into what it will take to force you to quit, and do not forget it. Once you find yourself in that situation, the next step has already been made, you quit and move on.

I am currently reading Seth Godin’s latest book (at least I think it is), “The Dip“, and it is a pretty good read so far (not to mention short, which is always good). Anyways, the gist of the book is that quiting is good, and you need to know when the right time to do so is. I can understand what he is getting at with this, but that is not the reason for the post (well at least not the main, but on second thought, it is definitely an underlying theme).

He makes a good point about why one should quit and what the benefits of it are, and that is that in order to be the best at whatever it is that you do, you need to know when to quit certain things and focus on those that are going to make you the best at what you do. Of course, best is a relative term, so to be the best in the world only pertains to the world in which you live. For example, if you are looking for the best Rails developer that can work 60 hours a week and lives in your area and is willing to work for peanuts, then your world is pretty limited and you may find the best that fits that world, but very well may not be the best in the world, just the best in your world.

So why is it then that big companies will enter into a saturated market and wind up failing? According to Seth, it is their willingness to compromise, but they mask that by convincing themselves that they can throw around their clout and they will become the best. It is exactly this mentality that causes them to not be the best. Instead of focusing on being truly innovative and groundbreaking, in other words be the best at whatever it is they are trying to do, they settle.

This is the advantage that smaller companies have over the big guys, is that they focus on being the best at what they do, and leave all the rest by the wayside, they know when to quit certain things that do not attribute to them being the best at what they do. Perhaps the big guys could take a page out of the little guys play book and learn when to quit and learn how to be the best.