My views on the market, tech, and everything else

Author Archives


“Bad or Good Board of Directors – You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!”

  Trae Vassallo (Defy): “[Be] really good at quickly identifying the big questions — the big issues — never get distracted by the small minutia. [Be] laser focused on what is it going to take to turn the business into a great big opportunity.” Vassallo has described the process of learning to become an effective board member as an apprenticeship. Both as a founder/entrepreneur (Good Technology) and while she worked […]

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Business and Investing Lessons from Rebecca Lynn (Canvas Ventures)

Rebecca Lynn is a Co-founder and a General Partner at Canvas, where she focuses on early-stage venture investments. Lynn was born and raised in Missouri and began her career at Procter and Gamble. In a talk at Stanford she described part of the inspiring journey that took her to where she is today: “In this little town where I grew up, the highest-level math class was very rudimentary trigonometry. There […]

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“Proprietary Product Distribution” is Better than Sliced Bread

  Jim Barksdale once said: “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” This challenge is made harder by another business truism: if the cost of acquiring customers exceeds the ability of the business to monetize those customers, the business will inevitably fail since it has not created product market fit. Not only does someone need to “sell something” but is must be done in a way that is cost-effective. Some people forget that […]

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Business Lessons from Oprah Winfrey

Writing a blog posts about Oprah Winfrey is intimidating since she is such an influential and inspiring person. Including a short biography to start this post seems almost pointless since I can’t imagine anyone reading this who does not know her story. It is possible that not everyone knows everything about her abilities as a businessperson and investor, but even that seems unlikely. The Oprah Show, O magazine, Oprah Radio, […]

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Business Lessons about Growth from Andrew Chen (Andreessen Horowitz)

Andrew Chen is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. Previously, he led the Rider Growth teams at Uber. He holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Washington. He is a prolific writer and insightful Twitter participant. Speaking of Twitter, some of the quotations below are compiled from tweetstorms and are marked with an asterisk. “Without growth, you have nothing, and the status quo is death.” “Scaling growth […]

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Business Lessons from Jess Lee (Sequoia Capital)

Jess Lee is an investing partner at Sequoia Capital and the former chief executive officer of Polyvore (a fashion web site allowing users to create shareable collages of clothing and interior designs). Before being CEO at Polyvore, Lee was a Product Manager at Google. She started her career at Google by working on the shopping engine Froogle before becoming product manager of Google Maps.  “In the early days of a startup as a founder you […]

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Business, Investing and Life Lessons from Quincy Jones

“The ’30s in Chicago, man. Whew. No joke. My brother and I saw dead bodies every day. Guys hanging off of telephone poles with ice picks in their necks, man. Tommy guns and stogies, stacks of wine and liquor, big piles of money in back rooms.” “A guy attacked me with a knife when I was 7 years old.  I was on the wrong street.” Jones moved to Seattle from […]

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Business and Life Lessons from John Cleese

John Cleese is an actor, comedian, screenwriter and producer. His comedy achievements are too numerous to list fully, but here are a few highlights: In the late 1960s, he co-founded Monty Python. Cleese’s business training films use comedy as a teaching tool, including the well known classic: “Meeting, Bloody Meetings.” Cleese wrote the script and played a character in the movie A Fish Called Wanda. He is also the co-creator of the Emmy […]

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Investing and Business Lessons from Aileen Lee (Cowboy Ventures)

Aileen Lee is the founder of the seed-stage focused venture capital firm Cowboy Ventures. She was previously a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Lee was also the founding CEO of the digital media company RMG Networks. She is a graduate of MIT and Harvard Business School. “Venture investors are looking for large addressable markets. How big is the market? What is the problem that you’re trying to solve? […]

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Business Lessons from David Chang (Momofuku Noodle Bar and Food Television Personality)

Since I have already written blog posts about the “food television” personalities Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown, I decided to write one about David Chang. If you don’t know who Chang is, Time magazine has an excellent written profile. A few sentences from that article provide a brief biography of his early career: “It may surprise you to learn that the Korean-American rebel chef David Chang, known for his delicious, […]

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