Recently came across a great conversation between Keith Rabois and AngelList, back from Aug’18. So many tactical insights for operators, founders, big co./ startup teams, or anyone who is interested in understanding how leaders should operate on-the-ground. My key takeaways below:
- Talent can be classified into “Barrels” (can independently execute end-to-end, from idea to product-in-market) and “Ammunition” (require supervision, execute only specific elements well). The number of Barrels in your team governs how many parallel things you can do.
- Every business can be ultimately distilled into an “equation”, with key revenue & cost variables that ultimately drive profit. Founders need to understand their business’s equation really well, which is what drives strategic insights that lead to better decisions.
- A key job of a founder or CXO is to compress “time” for the business, via a communication strategy of “simplify” and “clarify”.
- In the majority of cases, larger engineering teams tend to slow execution down. Paraphrasing a quote by Eric Schmidt — “one of the most powerful things is 2 engineers working together”.
- Put your best people on the most challenging problems, irrespective of what it does to your org. chart.
- The more transparency around data and information that the CEO can create, the better everyone else can make day-to-day operating decisions that align with the company goals and strategy.
- There is a saying in sports that a particular team has been “coached to play fast”. This is what startup leaders need to do to increase the speed of execution — coach their teams in a way that they can take fast decisions & react instantly, and in high fidelity to company goals.
- As a leader, it’s important to speak in “Whys?”, and not “What we are doing?”.
- As a leader, it’s important to change your management style as per the kind of individuals or teams you are working with at a particular point in time.
- The CEO is the “Chief Editor” of the company. You aren’t actually doing a lot of the functional work yourself but your key job is to a) simplify things for others, 2) create consistency across teams, and 3) create a coherent narrative & voice, internally & externally.
- As a founder, it’s important to understand the difference between a “bad” team and an “incomplete” team. Both require very different strategies.
- Best way to onboard talent (from intern to exec) -> start with as narrow a scope as possible, let them succeed at it, and then keep expanding their scope & pushing their range.
- Hiring is a muscle — you get stronger as you do more of it.
- An important question to answer while hiring: are you hiring for upside creation (is there a spark?) or downside protection (rigorous value creation role)?
- A simple best practice to improve hiring is to borrow your network to vet candidates and do comprehensive reference checks.
I already started implementing a bunch of these at my startup Workomo. Would love to know if you have used some of these tenets in the past, and your experience/ key learnings from it.