Leadership

Career interview with Mike Tschudy, Head of Design at Mint.com

I had the pleasure of talking with Mike Tschudy about his career path recently. Mike is the Head of Design for Mint.com. He shared a ton of good advice about intentionally planning your career, finding good sounding boards, and taking a step back occasionally to reevaluate your path. The full transcript of our discuss is below…

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When you lead, you set the pace

Jets in formation

Leadership One lesson that I learned in the military is that when you lead, you set the pace. But, it took some bad advice and a few hard knocks before I discovered this. When I first joined the military (many, many years ago), one recurring piece of advice was; “Never volunteer or be up front, but…

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UX Talk – Designing for Love & Money – Video and Slides

Designing for Love and Money

In this UX talk at the Fluxible conference, I explored the battle between love and money as it applies to products, organizations, and even our own careers. Over the past 20 years, I have developed strategies to deal with this problem, both as an individual contributor and as an organizational leader. Regardless of where you…

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Designing for Love and Money – Fluxible 2013

Virtuous cycle of love and money

In this talk, Larry explores the battle between love and money as it applies to products, organizations, and even our own careers. Over the past 20 years, Larry has developed strategies to deal with this problem, both as an individual contributor and as an organizational leader. Regardless of where you happen to work, or in what context, it’s an unavoidable issue that every designer must face and resolve.

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Investing in Your Leaders – The ROI of Leadership Coaching

I had the good fortune during my career to participate in leadership coaching for the first time when I was a VP at Yahoo. I had certainly heard about career coaching over the years, but had never really considered trying it. My experience with companies in Silicon Valley has been that the majority used to…

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Why Do Businesses Fail to Successfully Adapt to Change?

Interesting infographic on GigaOM on why businesses are failing to successfully deal with disruption, competition, and change. Many of the reported causal factors will be quite familiar to anyone who has worked in a larger corporation. Although this highlights some of those factors, there isn’t much offered in terms of potential solutions to overcome these issues. Some…

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Why Do Startups Fail? An Analysis of 3,200 High-growth Startups

I read a very interesting article on TechCrunch today about why startups fail. They shared data from research that Blackbox conducted for their Startup Genome project, which is trying to uncover what makes Silicon Valley startups succeed vs. fail. You can gain access to the free full report here. I highly recommend that you take the time to read through it. Pretty fascinating data.

My biggest takeaway from all of this? Startups absolutely need great mentors. Surprisingly, hands-on help from their investors did not have a significantly positive effect on their performance. I believe that most startup founders assume that they are going to get the guidance they need to be successful once they have secured the backing of a solid VC firm. This certainly does not appear to be the case. As I look through the key findings from the report, these points of failure seem to quite avoidable if a startup had a strong, smart team of mentors that they could turn to for advice on these issues. In particular, the most common reason for startup failure was “premature scaling” along one or more key dimensions (i.e., Customer, Product, Team, Financials, and Business model). Knowing how and when to scale a startup appropriately along these dimensions is something that an experienced mentor understands (e.g., someone who has learned from his or her own scaling successes and failures).

15 Key findings from their report

  1. Founders that learn are more successful. Startups that have helpful mentors, track performance metrics effectively, and learn from startup thought leaders raise 7x more money and have 3.5x better user growth.
  2. Startups that pivot once or twice raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52% less likely to scale prematurely than startups that pivot more than 2 times or not at all. A pivot is when a startup decides to change a major part of its business.
  3. Premature scaling is the most common reason for startups to perform worse. They tend to lose the battle early on by getting ahead of themselves. Startups can prematurely scale their team, their customer acquisition strategies or over build the product.
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