An Inside Look at Building Netflix’s Culture

Much has been talked about Netflix’s famous culture deck and their unique culture.  Check out this candid and insightful talk by Patty McCord, Chief of Talent for Netflix, on the ins and outs of building Netflix’s culture since the beginning. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Discussion on Building Startup Culture

Check out this insightful panel discussion on building startup culture with some of the most-forward thinking startup executives and founders from the Unleashed Culture conference. The panel was moderated by Steve Blank, and featured Lori Goler (Facebook), James Currier (Tickle, Oooga Labs, Wonderhill), Dave Selinger (RichRelevance), Rashmi Singh (Slideshare), and Tim Wenzel (Chegg). Read the rest of this entry »

Highlights and Inspiration from Startup Oakland

I had the chance to attend a fantastic event tonight called Startup Oakland, which was put on by DBL Investors. In addition to learning how many extraordinary startups were born and built in and around Oakland, I walked away with some pretty powerful insights and renewed inspiration for the amazing things passionate, driven entrepreneurs can achieve when they set out to change the world.

The central part of the evening was a panel discussion of Oakland-based company CEOs including Joe Kennedy (Pandora), Kristin Groos Richmond (Revolution Foods), John Woolard (BrightSource Energy), Jim Margraff (Livescribe) and Julie Corbett (Ecologic).  Here are some of the highlights from the evening: Read the rest of this entry »

Use the Pygmalion Effect to Create a High Performing Team

“High expectations are the key to everything.”
– Sam Walton

The Pygmalion Effect Study

In the 1960s, Harvard psychology professor Robert Rosenthal teamed up with South San Francisco elementary school principal Lenore Jacobson to conduct what later became known as the Pygmalion Effect study.  In the study, 20% of the students within each of 18 elementary school classrooms were randomly assigned to a ‘high achiever’ group, with the remaining 80% serving as the control group. Read the rest of this entry »

Awesome Culture-Building Tip from WordPress Founder Matt Mullenweg

I had the privilege of presenting at True Venture’s Founder Camp last Wednesday on building a Values-driven Startup and Scaling Culture.  (As a quick aside, I should mention that everything that happens and is discussed at Founder Camp is confidential by default, and I’ve received explicit permission from Matt and True Ventures to share this.) In one of the discussions that followed, Automattic (and WordPress) founder Matt Mullenweg shared a brilliant, simple tactic that he’s used to help strengthen and scale Automattic’s culture: Read the rest of this entry »

The Science of a Happy Startup

I’ve been a student and devotee of the Positive Psychology movement for as long as I can remember.  I did my undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, where the movement took root, and took psychology classes there from some of the professors who have helped to fuel it. Since then, I’ve read just about every book and article written by positive psychology researchers.

I’m often stunned at how much has been scientifically proven about helping people be at their best (in gold-standard randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies) that is still not known amongst the general population, and particularly the population of leaders and entrepreneurs who are best positioned to use the knowledge for good. Read the rest of this entry »

The Real Reason Dieting Is So Hard, and Why It Matters for CEOs

What does dieting have to do with running a business?  Apparently, quite a bit.

According to a fascinating NY Times Magazine article entitled ‘Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?, researchers have recently discovered a paradox that helps to explain why dieting is so challenging:


  1. In order not to eat, a dieter needs willpower.
  2. In order to have willpower, a dieter needs to eat.


Read the rest of this entry »

Stop Managing Your Time, Start Aligning It

Countless well-meaning books, articles and websites have been dedicated to the issue of time management. I don’t know a single CEO, founder or executive who doesn’t feel that they have more to do than there are hours in the day. So, it’s only natural that we’d want to better manage our time. The issue with most of the time management advice and tips I’ve seen out there is that they tend to be like band-aids – helping you manage the symptoms of an underlying problem that persists. Most time management tools start with the premise that you’re generally clear about how you should be spending your time and eager to do so, but just need help doing those things more efficiently. Within that premise, there are a lot of helpful tools and tips out there. But if what you’re really looking for is to spend your time on this planet as best you can and get the most out of each day, I recommend you stop managing your time, and starting aligning it. Read the rest of this entry »

Building a company is really, really hard

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
–  Theodore Roosevelt

It’s 11:12pm and I just got an email from one of my startup CEO clients:

“It’s been a shitty week. The candidate said no. Not much positive news for our upcoming board meeting.”

I’m reminded of just how hard it is to build a company. Read the rest of this entry »

How to Hire For Values

One of the most important parts of building an awesome culture is, in Good To Great author Jim Collins’ words, to “get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”  In this post, I’m going to focus on how to “get the right people on the bus” by hiring for values in addition to skills and experience. While on the face of it this may seem rather obvious, most companies don’t put enough attention on figuring out exactly who are the ‘right people’ to let on their ‘bus’. Read the rest of this entry »

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