From Reinventing Hiring by Dr. Todd Dewett:
Use non-permanent initial employment. It’s often called probation, but I’m sure we can come up with a better label. In the US it’s fairly rare for professional roles, though more common in other countries, for example, the UK. Zappos is really onto something in this regard by paying people to quit, but I think they could save their money by simply initiating a 6-12 month try-out period. Nobody can hide real deficiencies or fool you by managing impressions for that long. Over this period, you honestly get to know someone and can then make an informed decision since you’ve observed them produce work and collaborate with the team.
Defer premium pay. Instead, go market or submarket. Are you willing to pay top wages for top talent? Yes. Should you pay it before seeing what they can do? No. A better alternative is to agree on a much-improved second year compensation package that kicks in after they survive the probation period. If you’re a destination employer due to overall culture, opportunity, and pay, this will work. You’ll find the talent who really wants to build something meaningful with you over time and you’ll weed out the mercenaries who are always looking for the next jump.
Do you think these suggestions are fair and would work?
From Value is created by doing by Sam Altman:
Value is created by doing.
It’s easy to forget this. A lot of stuff feels like work—commenting on HN, tweeting, reading about other companies’ funding rounds, grabbing coffee, etc —is not actually work. (If you count that as work, think really hard about the value you’re creating in your job.) These activities can be worthwhile in small doses—it’s important to network and meet interesting people to stay in the flow of ideas—but they are not by themselves how new wealth gets created.
Value gets created when a company does things like build widgets and sell them to customers. As a rough guideline, it’s good to stay in roles where you’re close to the doing.
 I count blogging as a marginal use of time, but the reason I started is because I realized it was important to be good at writing, I was bad at it, and the only way I was going to improve was with lots of practice. And sometimes I meet really interesting founders because of something I wrote.
I started blogging for personal brand, but quickly realized that it didn’t justify the time. Now I blog for a different reason. My blog posts are excerpts from the most useful articles I’ve read, so my blog forces me to be constantly learning and open to new ideas. And it has provided me with a library of insights I frequently revisit.
From Guerilla tips for raising venture capital by Richard Price:
Rule number one: You should be embarrassed by the sheer audacity of your vision!
Think big about what the company you’re building may be like in ten years if all your dreams come true. What kind of world would you want to create if you had a magic wand? That is what you want to be pitching to a VC, as that is the outcome that matters to them.
An entrepreneur will be thinking about today’s problems, and maybe thinking 6 months out, but you have to train yourself to look into the crystal ball and become eloquent about the ten year view. VCs know there is a lot of risk and they want to see what wondrous things will happen in return for the amount of risk that you are offering them. So offer them a lot of wondrous things…
VCs are looking for the ten-year level of discourse, rather than the six month level of discourse. Being in an investor meeting is actually the one environment where you can let you imagination rip. It’s not only acceptable to do that but its expected.
From What is a “SMART” Problem Statement at McKinsey? by Working With McKinsey:
The problem statement clearly defines, in a concise but comprehensive way, the key business problem that needs to be solved. Even though it’s called a problem “statement”, it’s usually in the form of a question.
SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Relevant, and Time-bound. A good problem statement should be all of those things. The challenge is to balance being thorough with being concise.
Some examples from problem statements that are not SMART:
- Not specific: ”better manage the business…” – this is too generic and doesn’t suggest where the greatest impact might be, how, or by when to capture it.
- Not measurable: “reverse our deteriorating performance…” – without specifying what metrics best reflect “performance”, it’s impossible to assess whether or not we’ve made progress.
- Not action-oriented: ”increase sales and decrease costs…” – while these are both appealing goals for any company, they have to be actionable to create impact.
- Not relevant: ”increase profits by raising prices…” – this sounds good, but not if the client is selling a commodity that sells at market prices.
- Not time-bound: ”eventually increase profits by 10%…” – a specific deadline is needed to motivate people to action, hold them accountable, and know if the project was successful.
McKinsey’s rigor around fundamental processes is stunning. Another example I quoted is the McKinsey Feedback Model.
From Don’t Launch Your Product by Vibhu Norby:
Here are a couple reasons why focusing on a big launch is the wrong strategy:
1. “Launching” screws with your metrics – and you need clean metrics to evaluate and iterate on your business. If you see 6000 signups on day one and 2000 on day two, you can be mislead about the strength of your vision. It clouds your ability to single out the passionate users and understand their usage patterns.
2. You’re probably not going to find product/market fit right out of the gate. So whatever press or marketing you have planned will fall on uninterested eyes.
3. The bigger your launch, the quicker you will enter the famous “trough of sorrow.” No human can easily withstand the emotional rollercoaster of startup metrics. Such baggage can lose you co-founders, employees, and your capital. And you will lose faith in yourself in the process.
4. You’ll be penalized when raising your next round. Neither the bell-curve nor the downward slope is an attractive graph to show investors.
Max Chopovsky has great advice for how to create an office your employees will love. Excerpts:
1. Involve your team in the research. Your team will love that you’re asking for their input. Find out how they like to work. Also figure out when they like to work.
2. Have them assist in finding furniture. [Consider] giving each team member $100 and taking them all to IKEA. The money won’t buy much, but the message of trust and empowerment is priceless…
3. Make a day (or week) out of putting your office together. …let each team member spend his or her first day putting together their furniture and setting up their laptop.
4. Decorate the space together. …let them take a day to get to know each other while working on a project together.
5. Ask questions. Put up a chalkboard or a dry erase board and write a different question on it every day.
6. Allow each team member to customize their own space. When we ask our interviewees about their favorite part of the office, many say it’s their desk.
7. Provide areas for serendipitous collaborations. …create areas where people can come together.
Steve Jobs Rejected The First Medical App In 1977 describes how George Diamond developed a medical app for the Apple II in 1977. Thinking that “a computer like this should be on the desk of every doctor in the world”, he approached Steve Jobs to ask for help:
He said he was very impressed with what I had done, and that he agreed about the potential for the future, but ‘frankly I’m not interested in working with you on this.’ I asked why. He said: ‘You have to understand. This is something that nobody in the world yet understands. I can’t be distracted. I’m trying to make the best hammer I can make, the best hammer in the world. You can use my hammer to tear something down, or you can use it to build something up. I really don’t care what you do with my hammer. I just want to make the best possible hammer. And what you are doing is a wonderful bit of construction, but to me it’s a distraction.’