February 11, 2017
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” – Antione de Saint-Exupery
Newton’s ﬁrst law of motion dictates that an object stays at rest until acted upon by force. Even if that object is the best-designed product, it will never be successfully launched without exerting the right amount of force to get it in motion. That is what the building phase is all about—igniting the momentum necessary to launch a great product and a great company.
The most important factor in this phase is hustle. So many pieces need to fall in place, from press to design to distribution, and at the prelaunch stage getting support and funding can take a good deal of persuasion. This is a messy process for many founders, of ﬁts and starts, with daily challenges and many setbacks. Just think of how many of those the Embrace team had to overcome. Often the only way to succeed is with a great amount of audacity, energy, passion, and sheer hustle to rally all of the resources, people, and ﬁnancing required. (more…)
December 16, 2016
As another year comes to a close and we explore possibilities for the next, many executives and board members reflect on the state of their organizations. I was recently asked by a client about the best way to diagnose where her organization is to help determine where to focus energies in the new year. My favorite diagnostic tool to accomplish this task is the organizational lifecycle.
November 16, 2016
On Halloween 2007, a room full of employees waited for a secret announcement. Two men emerged at the front of the room dressed in bee costumes and revealed news that would alter the course of two companies.
The men in the bee costumes were a senior vice president from Clorox and the general manager of Burt’s Bees. They were announcing Clorox’s acquisition of Burt’s Bees for the cool price of $925 million. The beloved all-natural products brand was joining the ranks of a company known for its chemicals.
Was Burt’s selling out?
November 3, 2016
You use dashboards every day, although you may not realize it.
The simplest is a clock. When you awake, it tells you what time it is. At a glance, you also know how long you have to get out of the house. If you drive to work, the instrument panel in your car is another dashboard, providing key information you wouldn’t want to be without. When you look up at the dashboard in the sky, you see what nature is telling you about the weather. Dark clouds indicate imminent rain, whereas sun indicates warmth.
Dashboards surround us. In business, dashboards commonly provide a quick view of key metrics such as customers, units sold and revenue. Here’s how you can use dashboards to improve the performance of your organization or business.
September 1, 2016
This week charity: water celebrated its 10-year anniversary. In that time they have raised hundreds of millions of dollars, which has funded 21,118 water projects providing clean water to 6,400,000 people in 25 countries. Did you ever wonder how an organization that has such a big impact got started?
This is the surprising story of how social entrepreneur Scott Harrison went from a club promoter to running a global social enterprise.
Every social enterprise has a founding story. If you’re interested, click here to download Discover Through Curiosity, a chapter from my book Profit & Purpose that details the founding story of Warby Parker, Method, Embrace and Burt’s Bees as well as gives clear actions to apply to your own social enterprise.
January 16, 2016
Hire a Top Performer Every Time with These Interview Questions
Hiring the right people is extremely hard. Not only is the market tightly constrained — especially for tech companies, but the unwritten rules for how to hire are often plain wrong. With more candidates who “look good on paper” going on to flounder at startups, it’s time to rethink what qualities actually make someone a great employee.
As the co-founder and CEO of Koru, an immersive business-training program designed for newly-minted job seekers, Kristen Hamilton works to bridge the gap between graduation and employment, and place people in jobs where they’ll excel. Working with candidates who lack real-world experience has had a surprising byproduct — she now has a crystal clear sense of the skills and traits that make people great performers.
Hamilton has channeled this knowledge into a new paradigm for what a high-impact hire looks like and how to find one. As such, Koru doesn’t put much stock into typical metrics like college rank or GPA. Instead, Hamilton and her colleagues have identified the skillsets and mindsets that are most predictive of on-the-job success.
They arrived at seven characteristics that, taken together, best translate into someone killing it at their job. These traits transcend department or career stage, and they apply to entry-level engineers and marketing executives alike. Most importantly, they work: 85% of the young people accepted into Koru’s program (which uses the same seven measures to screen candidates) land jobs quickly. Many of them field multiple offers. And the companies that hire them (like LinkedIn, Facebook and Yelp) have been uniformly impressed by the results.
January 16, 2016
Every startup I’ve worked at folks have lamented about how there were never enough resources to accomplish everything they wanted to. Whether it was not enough engineers to build the desired features, not enough designers to design those experiences, not enough marketers to drum up interest, or not enough salespeople to generate revenue. It always felt like the startup couldn’t hire fast enough to meet the desires of the business. And the classic belief was that we would be able to achieve our goals if we just had a few more people on the team. It’s easy to understand why folks have that mentality given resources are certainly a necessary ingredient to getting things done. When a startup is in the company building & scaling phase, excellence in hiring and on-boarding quality talent faster than others is a potential competitive advantage
But I want to make the counter-argument for why a minimum viable team, or a small team just big enough to ship and iterate on your minimum viable product, has it’s own advantages at the earliest phase of a startup when you are pre-product/market fit.
Reduced communication overhead
As Fred Books taught us long ago, the cost of communication increases exponentially with the addition of each new team member on an R&D team due to the nature of the inter-connected work which requires everyone to be kept up-to-date on the current plans, designs, strategy, etc in order to ensure success.
January 16, 2016
Treating diseases, addressing climate change, expanding access to healthy food or creating new methods of learning. These are just a few of the major social challenges that companies—yes, companies—are working to solve. Of course, the public and nonprofit sectors continue to play a critical role in tackling these challenges, but we’ve also witnessed an increasing number of entrepreneurs building companies whose products and services offer scalable solutions to improve our communities, while at the same time generating financial returns.
Because of their unique goals, companies that have a mission to turn a profit and do good have a different set of questions to ask than traditional enterprises when they’re getting started. What are the critical questions you should ask if you want to be a for-profit social enterprise? Here are six things to think about:
1. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM YOU’RE TRYING TO SOLVE?