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 if you really want them on your team. When you cater in food for a meeting, arrange a long term relationship and ask for a 2% discount. Take advantage of any pre-pay or early pay opportunities from vendors who offer a 2% or greater discount. Go through all of your recurring payables and ask yourself the question “do we need this?” and see if you can cut at least 2% of them. The next time you buy something from the Apple store, ask if you are getting a business discount and, if not, ask for one. If you get paid online using credit cards, explore options that are 2% less expensive. If you travel a lot, consider doing 2% more video conferences.
This works for your personal life also. Do you want to lose some weight? Eat 2% less and exercise 2% more. Are you tired? Sleep 2% more. Track your heart rate and see if 2% more sleep will lower your resting heart rate by 2%. Cancel 2% of your meetings. Spent 2% more time each waking day with your spouse, kids, and parents. Take a 2% break during the day and spend it alone going for a walk, fishing, or just sitting quietly on a bench.
You get the idea. As entrepreneurs we spend much of our time on transformative change. When I was president of Feld Technologies, I remember putting energy with my partner Dave into incremental change, especially when we were running short of cash. Don’t forget the 2%. It almost always flows directly to the bottom line.
“Brad, I expected your choice of metaphor would be ‘operating system’ more than ‘religion’, as the term ‘religion’ carries a lot of baggage and generally involves some supernatural truth claims. An ‘operating system’ both defines its environment and thrives within it — and the idea of an OS seems less cluttered with other analogies, like heaven, hell, and Eden.
Can you, for example, take the SV’s operating system and drag and drop it into Boulder or Kansas City? You can — but the VC’s the operating system needs to plug into may not be fast or scalable enough — the peripherals the OS expects to interact with.
The SV OS ought to work in a Bolder or Kansas City if we can ‘install it.'”
I love the phrase “operating system” to describe things. I saw a presentation from Anil Dash a year or two ago that completely recast government and how it works into the construct of an OS (it was epic – I wish I had the slides).
Yesterday I got an email from a CEO of a late stage company I’m involved in who is modifying his “board operating system.” He has a new late stage investor and it’s time to change the board OS to incorporate this new director and how he likes to work into the mix in a way that is additive to everyone, especially the company and the CEO.
It’d be easy for the CEO to fight this and say, “Nope, this is how we do things” but he’s wiser than that and instead is spending time thinking through how to modify the OS so that it works for everyone, including all the existing investors who are very happy with the existing board OS.
Here’s a quick table of the “current” and “future” board OS. The communication is clear and the rhythm is well-defined.
In 2014, Paul Berberian, CEO of Sphero, wrote an email to his board (which I’m on) titled Orbotix Board of Directors Expectations. We use this as our board OS at Orbotix and it’s been incredibly helpful. If you are struggling with your board dynamics, it’s worth reading and contemplating creating something similar.
I’m a strong believer that a great CEO sets the expectations for how the board of a private company works. Too many CEOs of startups don’t put the energy into this and as a result boards take on default behavior that is a function of the experience, style, and temperament of individual board members. This is, at best, suboptimal, and is often a clusterfuck.