Weekend roundup: reach vs revenue, the cost of doing greater things and optimizing your career

Happy Saturday.

And hello from Washington, DC. It’s good to be home.

  1. “25 people. 4 of them — FOUR — are the president-elect’s children.” [Link] [Tweet]

I (along with most of the tech sector) might be living in a bubble but why aren’t more people outraged by this?

The President-elect is openly putting his children (and who run his businesses in a “not-so-blind trust”) into meetings they wouldn’t ordinarily get on their own.

If Malia or Chelsea were sitting at those tables a few years ago, those two Presidents would have had a shitstorm on their hands. For this guy, we — as a country — seem to be letting him get away with anything.

2. “I should be constantly learning, and I should be happy and fulfilled in that role.” [Link] [Tweet]

One bit came from Peter Pham who told me to go work for a market leader, whatever role that happened to be, it just needed to be the top in their category.

Far too many people decide to start their own thing before gaining any real experience. Unless you can emotionally explain why you care so much about the problem you’re trying to solve, you’re better off working elsewhere.

3. “Natural selection no longer determines how man evolves. Man does – through innovation.” [Link] [Tweet]

Science has given us medicines that have doubled our average lifespan. Technology has given us the means to scale large organizations such as police forces, courts and jails. Violence has decreased a hundred fold; today less than 1 in 100,000 people are murdered. Those would have died from ailments or been killed in the past now live long lives, resulting in swelling ranks of elderly. There is little to no selection at all.

4. “Hours are never the differentiator — it’s never about working more hours than someone else.” [Link[Tweet]

People make it because they’re talented, they’re lucky, they’re in the right place at the right time, they know how to work with other people, they know how to sell, they know what moves people, they can tell a story, they can see the big and small picture in every situation, and they know how to do something with an opportunity. And so many other reasons. Working harder than other people is not the reason.

 5. “I view the reach vs. revenue conundrum as a spectrum of options ” [Link] [Tweet]

The key phrase here is spectrum of options.

There are two things to consider as you decide where your own company should be on that spectrum:

  • How much access to capital do you have? If you’ve got the ability to keep your company running without new revenue coming in the door, you should consider leaning towards more reach.
  • What is the key metric of success for your business? Aside from revenue, there’s probably some measure of usage (eg, “user completes an action”) that is strongly correlated to your future ability to monetize them. If you know that metric, it’s probably worth leaning towards revenue.

I wish there was a perfect answer for everyone but — based on all the business mistakes I’ve made over the years — I’ll tell you what’s right for me: lean towards revenue whenever you’re in doubt.

Do yourself a favor: get a cup of coffee and read this post in it’s entirety. It’s a solid 14 minutes but it’s well worth it — especially if you’re currently in the early part of your own business.

6. “In order to do greater things, you are going to piss people off or ostracize yourself.” [Link] [Tweet]

I envy people that have found a way to perfectly balance work, life and all the relationships that come with them. I haven’t figured it out and, to be honest, sometimes I think that’s the price I have to pay for my freedom.

Entrepreneurship (the version of it we live in SF) is isolating and lonely at so many times. And in my opinion, it’s unavoidable, but rewarding in a way that I cannot describe. You must be prepared to lose things that are important to you in the pursuit of it.

7. “By all appearances, we’re in a golden age of innovation.” [Link] [Tweet]

Outside of personal technology, improvements in everyday life have been incremental, not revolutionary. Houses, appliances and cars look much like they did a generation ago. Airplanes fly no faster than in the 1960s. None of the 20 most-prescribed drugs in the U.S. came to market in the past decade.

The innovation slump is a key reason the American standards of living have stagnated since 2000. Indeed, absent a turnaround, that stagnation is likely to continue, deepening the malaise that has left the middle class so dissatisfied.

8. “Half a century ago, the entirety of ARPANET, predecessor of the internet, was 45 computers connected to 40 nodes.” [Link] [Tweet]

How far we’ve come: I wouldn’t be surprised if there were 40+ nodes in the average household these days — between phones, Nests, cameras and all the other connected devices we all own.

9. “Explain where the company will be in 18–24 months, how you plan to use the money and how that changes over time.” [Link] [Tweet]

Pro tip: if you find yourself talking about your product for more than 50% of any investor meeting, you blew it.

10. “Early in your career you should be optimizing for two things: learning and building your network.” [Link] [Tweet]

If you’re considering a future job in VC, apply for — and do anything it takes to get into — the AngelList Analyst Program.


You can get the full stream of the things I read, it’s all on Twitter — follow me: @paulsingh.