Collection of Great career advice! – by Matt Wyndowe

This advice is from Matt Wyndowe’s favorite teachers and lecturers, including Andy Rachleff, Mark Leslie, Irv Grousbeck, Joel Peterson, Eric Schmidt, and many others.

  • Successful people listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. You learn more when you listen than when you talk.
  • Pareto principle: Always look for the 80/20. 80 percent of the value is delivered by 20 percent of the product/service. Focus on that 20 percent.
  • The importance of passion. When Warren Buffet finds people to run his business, his key criteria is to find somebody who would do the job whether they would get paid or not.
  • Be likable. People who are liked have the wind at their backs. So be liked.
  • Just when you think you’ve got it 100% right, you can be taken down.
  • People who are lucky make their own luck. And you only make your own luck by staying in the game.
  • Put on “the cloak” of leadership. A large part of your role is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence. If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don’t want the pilot to say “I am exploring a number of options and hope that…”, you want him to say, “I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.”  Awesome! you wont read this in books; this comes from a person who has done it!
  • The outcome of a negotiation is largely a function of your alternatives.Know your next best option.
  • You will only be as good as the people you will recruit. Media & culture celebrate individuals, but teams succeed.
  • The best scientists can explain complex issues in simple terms. Pretty good scientists can explain complex issues in complex terms.
  • A’s hire A’s. B’s hire C’s. Always strive to hire people better than you are.
  • Be a clear, fair manager. For example, when speaking to a business unit leader that isn’t succeeding, say: “I want a strategy to win in 1-page and the objectives we need to hit each quarter to reach them.”
  • When considering a business opportunity, look for change. What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity.
  • When in doubt, just keep selling. Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team.
  • Be humble. The markets are brutal to those who are arrogant.
  • Understand what you don’t do well. Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well.
  • Practice self-discipline. Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals. Life passes quickly – days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. “Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable.”
  • Be yourself. In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking. Not necessarily what the group wants to hear.
  • Learn to relax. Often overachievers are passionate about many things. Yet  it’s important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren’t that important.
  • You’ve got to give trust to get trust. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That’s fine, don’t do business with them again.
  • Shoot for the moon.To be successful, don’t follow the pack. If you want to win, don’t hedge.

Here is some good final advice from Joel Peterson:

“Appreciate the people you work with, take care of your investors, celebrate successes along the way, communicate lavishly – good news and bad news, tell the truth, don’t try to maximize everything, and stop to smell the roses. Life is pretty short and most of what really matters doesn’t happen at the office.”


How to find Principle of Big success for your Business?

I am very much interested in studying great entrepreneurs and learning from them; especially, how they make big decisions. Lately I have been studying Elon Musk and trying to find out his principle of BIG success. He doesnt blog much or write essays :), so I have been watching his interviews and getting more details from it.

So the question we are asking here is, How vision drives the crucial decisions (getting funding or hiring key people) on the ground? or what is the Big Principle of success for a business.Ideas in this article were triggered afte reading about Principle of Big success here*.

I would like to discover the factors which will drive design of entrepreneur’s principle of success. I think, three factors drive this design:

1. Why Factor –

Entrepreneur’s conviction of WHY he is doing the venture? What is the prime motivation? This determines the success criteria of the Vision.

Paul Grahm says; “we’re not doing YC mainly for financial reasons, the big winners aren’t all that matters to us” YC want to make a “a big effect on the world” and hence he justifies his investment in Reddit. He goes on to say that, “Reddit, introduced us to Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, both of whom have become good friends.” So in essence, YC is in startup investing for making a big impact on the world and in process they want to get associated with great minds! I think this is what drives most of their critical decisions. That’s why they invested in Airbnb, even though they were reluctant. Once you have clear WHY then comes finding out how to grow your business to become successful. Why will define the strategy.

In Elon Musk‘s case**, as he says; He thought that, 3 things which are important for humanity’s progress are – internet, inter planetary space travel and having economy which is based on renewable sources of energy (source). He decided to do something in those areas and went on to create PayPalSpaceXTesla and SolarCity(partially). For him starting SpaceX was a failure mission, his success criteria for starting it was getting everyone excited about to go to the Mars! His focus was on achieving something important rather than the idea of making money.

That’s a great tactic, once you identify what’s the most important thing to you is and decide to do something about it, then success/failure doesn’t matter to you; as for you success is inherent in your decision of pursuing it. How you will pursue it, will be affected by your passion of Why you want to do it.

2. Key facts

Key Facts of your business will determine how you can achieve the Why. As Paul says: “The two most important things to understand about startup investing, as a business, are (1) that effectively all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners, and (2) that the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.”

Now once the fact #1 is known; as in Paul’s case its “all the returns are concentrated in a few big winners”; then that will drive the how part of the principle. He says “… the huge scale of the successes means we can afford to spread our net very widely. The big winners could generate 10,000x returns. …We can afford to take at least 10x as much risk as Demo Day investors. And since risk is usually proportionate to reward, if you can afford to take more risk you should.” All this is based on key fact #1 and how to identify Big winners has its roots in fact #2 “the best ideas look initially like bad ideas.” Which by the will help us understand if our idea is Big or not 🙂

3. Growth Factor

Once you know the Key facts then you need pick up your growth rate. I think another great article ( by Paul Grahm about growth of a startup will help us understand this. This growth rate will in turn determine the large number of decision you take i.e how much risk you are willing to take, what should be your team size. So deciding growth rate will determine if Paul can afford to take at least 10x risk or 30x risk as compared to Demo day investors. By the way, he doesn’t talk about this in his article where he is discussing his success principle. But I think growth rate (strategy) chosen by him is driving the tactic of choosing to take 10x risk. Does that makes sense?

I hope this article help us understand how we can come up with our principle Big success. Do let me know your thoughts on the same.


*  Thanks to Santosh for triggering my chain of thoughts which became this article.

** By the way Elon Musk is a great guy and he is onto something BIG called hyperloop, calling it the 5th mode of transport!

Death – The Great Teacher!

My Grand pa died when I was in 7th standard, I loved my grand mother a lot and I could feel her sandness and pain in her after loosing her husband.

That experience changed me. I started thinking why should we live when in the end we are going to die. I wanted to know the solid reason. Its like we build for a purpose. We build house to live safely and securely. We manufacture clothes (to protect ourselves), vehicles (for transportation). In essence, our every action has some purpose and by same reasoning I started asking What is purpose of life? Is it to get good marks in 8th then 9th then in 10th then go to college then to higher studies then get married have children grow old and die??? These question shook the whole foundations of my ideas about the world around me;there was a earth quake in my mind and all the preconceived ideas about life and world around me came tumbling down.

That was the beginning of a journey, a quest to find a meaning in life! I will share my experiences in coming days (not sure when though 🙂

Active Living!

Lot of time we feel like we are living life passively i.e living by reacting to circumstances, sometimes it better to do that when you are facing the unknown. But very often this becomes habit and people live re-actively.

We should live actively, meaning we should be pro-active in living life. Planning things ahead, guessing how events might turn out and act accordingly. This gives energy to your daily living.

Stop SOPA and PIPA

Here is the letter by major VCs to members of Congress, mentioning WHY they oppose
these SOPA and PIPA acts. We should have such intellectuals in India when we talk about Lokpal. When we say intention of any act is justified we should also make sure that the way of implementing any act should not create more problem, than it is trying to solve. I believe that is happening with both Lokpal and with SOPA and PIPA acts. Even though intentions are right their implementation is NOT.

Here is a white paper on why implementation of SOPA and PIPA is wrong –

Here is the letter by VCs.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Members of the U.S. Congress,

We write to express our concern with S. 968, the PROTECT IP Act (“PIPA”). As investors in technology companies, we agree with the goal of fostering a thriving digital content market online. Unfortunately, the current bill will not only fail to achieve that goal, it will stifle investment in Internet services, throttle innovation, and hurt American competitiveness.

Online innovation has flourished, in part, because the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), though flawed, created clear, defined safe harbors for online intermediaries. The DMCA creates legal certainty and predictability for online services — so long as they meet the conditions of the safe harbors, including an appropriate notice-and-takedown policy, they have no liability for the acts of their users. At the same time, the DMCA gives rights-holders a way to take down specific infringing content, and it is working well.

We appreciate PIPA’s goal of combating sites truly dedicated to infringing activity, but it would undermine the delicate balance of the DMCA and threaten legitimate innovation. The bill is ripe for abuse, as it allows rights-holders to require third-parties to block access to and take away revenues sources for online services, with limited oversight and due process.

In particular:

By requiring “information location tools” — potentially encompassing any “director[ies], index[es], reference[s], pointer[s], or hypertext link[s]” — to remove access to entire domains, the bill puts burdens on countless Internet services.

By requiring access to sites to be blocked by Domain Name System providers, it endangers the security and integrity of the Internet.

The bill’s private right of action will no doubt be used by many rights-holders in ways that create significant burdens on legitimate online commerce services. The scope of orders and cost of litigation could be significant, even for companies acting in good faith. Rights-holders have stated their interest in this private right of action because they worry that the Department of Justice will not have enough resources to initiate actions against all of the infringing sites. Yet, why should costs be shifted to innocent Internet entrepreneurs, most of whom have budgets smaller than the Department of Justice’s?

While we understand PIPA was originally intended to deal with “rogue” foreign sites, we think PIPA will ultimately put American innovators and investors at a clear disadvantage in the global economy. For one, services dedicated to infringement will simply make their sites easy to find and access in other ways, and determined users who want to find blocked content will simply shift to services outside the reach of U.S. law, in turn giving a leg up to foreign search engines, DNS providers, social networks, and others. Second, PIPA creates a dangerous precedent and a convenient excuse for countries to engage in protectionism and censorship against U.S. services. These countries will point to PIPA as precedent for taking action against U.S. technology and Internet companies.

The entire set of issues surrounding copyright in an increasingly digital world are extremely complex, and there are no simple solutions. These challenges are best addressed by imagining, inventing, and financing new models and new services that will allow creative activities to thrive in the digital world. There is a new model for financing, distributing, and profiting from copyrighted material and it is working — just look at services like iTunes, Netflix, Pandora, Kickstarter, and more. Pirate web sites will always exist, but if rights holders make it easy to get their works through innovative Internet models, they can and will have bright futures.

Congress should not chill investment and reduce incentives to work on private sector solutions. Instead, we encourage Congress to focus on making it easier to license works and bring new, innovative services to market.


Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz
Brady Bohrmann, Avalon Ventures
John Borthwick, Betaworks
Mike Brown, Jr., AOL Ventures
Brad Burnham, Union Square Ventures
Jeffrey Bussgang, Flybridge Capital Partners
John Buttrick, Union Square Ventures
Randy Castleman, Court Square Ventures
Tony Conrad, True Ventures
Ron Conway, SV Angel
Chris Dixon, Founder Collective
Bill Draper, Draper Richards
Esther Dyson, EDventure Holdings
Roger Ehrenberg, IA Ventures
Brad Feld, Foundry Group
Peter Fenton, Benchmark Capital
Ron Fisher, Softbank Capital
Chris Fralic, First Round Capital
David Frankel, Founder Collective
Ric Fulop, North Bridge
Brad Gillespie, IA Ventures
Allen “Pete” Grum, Rand Capital
Chip Hazard, Flybridge Capital Partners
Rick Heitzmann, FirstMark Capital
Eric Hippeau, Lerer Ventures
Reid Hoffman, Greylock Partners
Ben Horowitz, Andreessen Horowitz
Rob Hutter, Learn Capital
Mark Jacobsen, OATV
Amish Jani, First Mark Capital
Brian Kempner, First Mark Capital
Vinod Khosla, Khosla Ventures
Josh Kopelman, First Round Capital
David Lee, SV Angel
Lawrence Lenihan, FirstMark Capital
Kenneth Lerer, Lerer Ventures
Jordan Levy, Softbank Capital
Greg Mauro, Learn Capital
Jason Mendelson, Foundry Group
R. Ann Miura-Ko, Floodgate
Howard Morgan, First Round Capital
John O’Farrell, Andreessen Horowitz
Tim O’Reilly, OATV
David Pakman, Venrock
Eric Paley, Founder Collective
Alan Patricof, Greycroft Partners
Danny Rimer, Index Ventures
Neil Rimer, Index Ventures
Bryce Roberts, OATV
Bijan Sabet, Spark Capital
David Sze, Greylock Partners
Andrew Weissman, Betaworks
Albert Wenger, Union Square Ventures
Eric Wiesen, RRE Ventures
Fred Wilson, Union Square Ventures

Anna, Fast is not Enough! – an open letter to Anna Hazare

Dear Anna,

We salute you for the courage and determination you have shown over last week.Through your movement you have made every Indian aware of his/her power. We have stood by you in our fight against corruption.

I am really proud to say that we are fighting peacefully against corruption, but I also believe our fight should be very well thought out, we should solve the root of the problem. When we say, our goal is right, we should make sure that path we are taking is right as well.

I have few objections to the path which you have chosen.I am proud of myself because we are the second largest democracy in the World. You always have the right to go on indefinite fast, but saying that, “Government should PASS the bill, or I will die”, will not show Right path to the People of India. Anna, in this age of darkness, where we don’t have a strong political leader, we are looking towards you as our leader, who will show us the right path. If we want to pass any other good bills; are you suggesting we will have to go on fasting, till all the bills are passed? Is this how we want to run our country? I am aware of the frustration everyone has against the current system, but saying its system’s fault and going on fast till death to meet our demands,would be very naive and immature.

You and your team says, there have been lot of discussions on this bill, you have taken opinion of the people for it, which is great(simply because lot of people are supporting anything doesn’t mean that is right thing), but that doesn’t mean we should FORCE government to pass only OUR draft of the bill. This will do injustice to other people’s views (there are some other drafts by some other NGOs as well). Even if we succeed in this way it will set a trend to get anything done.

The long term solution I see is, you and your team should form a political party, face the elections, we will elect you as a majority in Parliament. This way we can get lot of other good bills passed. As they say, “To change the system we should become part of the system”. Lets become part of the democracy and fight in a systematic way. We always say, “Why we can not have Good politicians? Why cant WE, as Indians, elect Good People? Why Good people are not part of the system?”.

This movement is very good start, but in the long run India needs, Good people to join politics, you and your team can take a lead in doing that, you should start a political party! (Should I say “I will go on indefinite fast, until you start a political party?”).

Lets become part of the democratic system to make it strong and lets run our India more systematically.


An Indian.

Seth Godin on Making an Impact