Category

Management

Is 2017 The Year Of Flat Headcount?

If you are growing at a rate of less than 50% year over year, you should consider viewing 2017 as the year of flat headcount. As budgets are settling down and getting approved for many of the companies I’m on the board of, I’m seeing a general trend of much less headcount growth in 2017 than in…

The Three Machines

Lately, I’ve been stewing over increased complexity being generated by companies around their organization approaches. While this activity varies by stage, in many cases the leadership team expands to a large (greater than six) number of people, there become two executive teams (the C-Team and the E-Team), the CEO gets sucked into endless distractions and working…

Empty Out Your Junk Drawer

Everyone has a junk drawer. Or two. Or ten. One of mine is to the left. So does every company. It’s now often referred to as “Labs” (as an homage to the infamous Google Labs which was disbanded in 2011.) We’ve seen a lot of companies spin up a Labs as a way to try to…

Get Your Metrics Together

As we head into 2017, I have a steady stream of operating plans hitting my inbox. Since many of our investments are companies that are scaling, vs. companies that are just getting started, there are a lot of derivative metrics in these plans. Q1 is the easiest quarter to make your plan, so most of…

CEOs Who Are Pleasers Should Spend More Time With Customers

I woke up this morning thinking about people who have a desire to please. This is not my personality type, but I encounter it regularly. Amy often describes herself as an “approval-seeking people pleaser” and I’ve learned a lot from my 30 years of interacting with her. With CEOs I often notice the pleaser personality…

Board Seat For Sale

I had lunch recently with a founder. We were talking about current and future board configuration for his company and he said “Up until this point, all my board seats were simply for sale. Whenever a new investor showed up, they wanted – and got – a board seat.” I loved the phrase “board seat…

Managing New User Satisfaction On A Daily Basis

As we get to the end of 2016, I’m in many conversations about 2016 performance and 2017 budgets. While 2016 isn’t over yet, most SaaS companies know how things are going to end up within a few percentage points. As a result, their focus on 2017 is an extrapolation from how they have been doing in 2016,…

John Lilly On The Role of Simplicity and Messaging

Yesterday I talked briefly about taking a break from media. However, I wasn’t precise, as the one thing I read each week is the New York Times Sunday paper. When Amy and I lived in Boston we started reading it every Sunday morning and continued whenever we travelled. Several years ago I started having it delivered…

Post Acquisition – It’s Business as Usual Except Better

Recently I wrote about how I think about private company acquisition strategies using FullContact as the example of one where it is working well. Last week I was at a board meeting for a different company which did an acquisition a month ago. I heard a fantastic line from the founder of the company that had…

The 2% Change

Here’s something actionable for you on a Monday morning. If you want to improve your business, in addition to all the other things you are doing, focus on changing thing by 2%. For example, raise your prices 2%. Eliminate 2% of your variable costs. Focus on the bottom 2% of your team and ask yourself…