Learning how to manage yourself, manipulate other people and the unfettered optimism that only $1B valuations (on $0 earnings) can buy

Happy Friday.

(Hello from Halifax, NS today. It’s been a long few weeks of travel and I’m looking forward to a few days of downtime when I get back to DC late tonight.)

1. A photographer edits out our smartphones to show our strange and lonely new world [Link] [Tweet]

There’s a 36% chance (seriously) that you’re reading this from a mobile phone which means you probably look like the people in these photos. Your goal today: make eye contact.

2. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone to put more than 5% of his or her investment assets into startups.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you’re a founder considering a fundraise soon, read this to get a better understanding of how investors think. If you’re someone considering becoming an investor soon, read this to understand how hard it is to be a good investor.

Writing checks is the easy part. Figuring out how all the pieces together is much, much harder.

3. “CEO psychology is the most under-appreciated, yet most important part of building a company.” [Link] [Tweet]

There’s not much in here that you don’t already know but seeing the ideas written down somehow makes them feel a bit more real.

My advice: if you’ve raised your first round already, take the time to see a therapist once a week. If nothing else, you’ll have a completely neutral sounding board that you can trust will keep your deepest fears private. The value of that can’t be overstated.

4. “I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life learning how to manipulate people.” [Link] [Tweet]

Sales can feel scary and complicated but this about sums it up: “If you can win their trust, then you don’t have to sell. You just become the guy who has the thing that other people want. And in the world of online sales, that’s the perfect place to be.”

5. “I finally recognized and accepted where my personal problems are, which allows me to deal with them.” [Link] [Tweet]

Love him or hate him, Tucker Max is opening the kimono on this one: “Basically, this whole fucking thing is therapy, as all writing is. It’s just helping you and me both, instead of just me.”

6. “The basic problem is that there’s nowhere for the packages to go.” [Link] [Tweet]

It’s interesting to think that physical places and spaces are getting jammed up with things that we buy online. The solution probably isn’t to build bigger spaces, not immediately any way. The real solution is figuring out how to move the packages through the “last mile” more efficiently.

7. “To survive, manage yourself.” [Link] [Tweet]

Yep: “There are so many things that can kill a company.  There are so many ways to fail it almost overwhelms people.  Make sure that if you fail, you fail because of things you cannot control.”

8. “Stop complaining about how much of your time is already spoken for and start figuring out a way to get it back.” [Link] [Tweet]

I probably say “yes” too much. You probably do too. Let’s fix that.

Default answer: “No.”

9. “There’s little value in pointing out a problem unless you have an actual idea for solving it.” [Link] [Tweet]

This is the most coherent framework for anyone’s first 90 days at a job (and each subsequent 90 days after that).

10. “my worries are drowned out by the kind of unfettered optimism that only $1B valuations (on $0 earnings) can buy.” [Link] [Tweet]

Anecdotally, it seems that overall sentiment from tech investors is shifting from optimistic to cautiously optimistic to “oh shit, everything’s about to fall

I’m coming for you

No, actually I’m done for a little bit. I’ve spent the last few weeks in Madrid, SP (where I gave my first keynote in a bullfighting ring!), Halifax, NSChattanooga, TN (where I did my first speaking gig inside an old church) and a bunch of other interesting places. Detroit and Lagos are on the agenda in the next few weeks.

Anything cool happening in your neck of the woods?


You can get the full stream of the things I read, it’s all on Twitter — follow me: @paulsingh. Sometimes I write stuff too. You can always find me on Slack, apply to join.

Have a great weekend!


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