(Hello from Detroit today.)
I’ve been meeting a ton of people over the past few weeks and, particularly when I’m at a conference or other tech event, asking people about their hobbies tends to (1) keep me from feeling burnt out when talking to so many people, (2) help me learn more about the person standing in front of me and (3) gives me an interesting way to introduce them to someone else at the conference. So, I guess that makes this a bit of a networking hack. Win-win.
I love in-depth pieces (like this one) that shed light on the way successful people do what they do. Taylor’s level of self-awareness is nothing short of incredible.
3. Trade groups and networking groups don’t make regions better, individuals and companies do. [Tweet]
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an angel group, a trade organization or a Chamber of Commerce — in a time where every individual has direct access to a broad audience via the internet, you’re going to lose your influence (and revenue) if you don’t adapt.
Like most industries disrupted by the internet, you need to start thinking about yourself as a service provider rather than an access provider.
You should internalize the concepts of buyer urgency and seller scarcity. It’s something we used to think about quite a bit when I was selling cars in the early days of Carmax (eg, “So what are you driving now?” and “There’s only one of these on the lot. Oh look, these other people are looking at the car now.”) and it’s still relevant today.
The old way of making money: I made this, you should pay for this.
The new way of making money: I made this, you can use it for free, I might charge you for some of the “pro” features.
Go for the max market in both your personal and professional lives. You’ll be surprised by the number of opportunities that will appear along the way.
I’m on autopilot right now, actually.
7. “Outward appearance isn’t as important as the quality of the work you do.” [Link] [Tweet]
You know, it’s not that everyone should be wearing t-shirts (or wearing suits). It’s that we should wear the clothes makes us most comfortable and wear the clothes that align the most with our customers. Just be comfortable and sell some shit, y’all.
On a related note, the suit-to-jeans ratio is an important metric for any tech conference. Outside of Silicon Valley or other major cities, you can tell a lot about the maturity of a local tech community by the number of jeans (with or without sport coats) in any audience.
Given all the talk of unicorns these days, it’s important to understand how the various classes of stock work. It’ll make your brain explode.
For the investors reading this: “If you hold series seed shares in Uber (a fairly subordinate class of stock) and mark them as if the entire company is worth $50B, and that your shares are worth the exact same as the more senior shares, you’re lying.” You might want to double-check your quarterly portfolio markups and markdowns. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Look, the way we all work is changing — it doesn’t matter whether you’re a founder, an employee or something in between. Everyone needs to be an entrepreneur.
Building a personal brand might feel unimportant but, frankly, you’re going to be at a disadvantage if you don’t put some time into it. In the worst case, your brand will be the “insurance policy” you’ll cash in when it’s time to look for a new job or raise your next round. In the best case, you’ve got that insurance policy and you’ll have opportunities coming across your radar that you would never have received otherwise.
As you know, I’m a big believer in learning better communication and public speaking skills — it really is the lowest-effort-highest-ROI way to build your personal brand. If that’s not for you, find your thing but I sincerely hope you don’t ignore this particular point.
I’m on the tail end of a month of heavy travel — flying and talking, flying and talking, flying and talking. I’m spent.
A couple of things I’ve been thinking about as I meet so many entreprenuers, investors and community builders:
- People who compare technology-enabled businesses (a.k.a. “startups”) miss the point: tech-enabled companies can’t be easily compared to existing companies.
- I’ve been talking to lots of entrepreneurs lately, the most successful seem to have one or more traits:
- They’ve got a functional prototype with small but measurable usage.
- Small but cross-functional teams: the hacker, hustler and designer are already on board.
- They can clearly articulate how their product solves a problem for a **specific** customer.
- The best investors and companies (and individuals) see themselves as marketing companies that happen to do what they do — not the other way around. Distribution is everything.
Have a great weekend!
P.P.S. I’m starting to do a little bit of consulting for real estate firms and tech community builders around the country. If you think I might be able to help with something you’re doing in your neck of the woods, hit ‘reply’ and let’s talk about it.