In the Land of the Blind…

Scene: Conference table in an office building surrounded by board members in suits and one guy in a black t-shirt and jeans (me – whoops didn’t get the memo)

Q: (suit #1) So how will we know that the company is back on track?

A: (me) AARRR!

My business partner in this deal looked at me like I had just confirmed all his concerns about my mental status and the suits sat silently looking at one another confused.  I smiled and launched into my best Dave McClure explanation of the key metrics that we would use to track the company’s progress.  If you are not familiar with Dave (I follow him on twitter so we are definitely on a first name basis) and his “Metrics for Pirates” framework, then go here immediately.  When I was done with my three-minute run-down (no cursing, sorry Dave), the same suits who just moments ago were wondering if I was a Tourette’s sufferer were nodding and looking quite pleased.

My point is not that suits are bad.  I wear them myself on occasion to quite an effect.  My point is that in the land of the blind, the one eyed web-surfing content junkie is king!  McClure’s metrics are all over the web.  There are videos of him cursing and pirating through the presentation.  Anyone of the members of the board or start-up could have done a simple search, found them, validated the fit, and implemented them.  They didn’t and so I look like a start-up RainMan reciting “acquisition-activation-retention-referral-revenue” in between asking about Jeopardy.

I have been in the VC/private equity/angel investing/start-up world for over a decade now and have been involved in more deals than most.  My experience carries me much of the way I need to go but my secret sauce is something else…

I am a pride-free content junkie!

One of the many issues that slow down large corporations is NIH syndrome.  Not Invented Here syndrome limits a company’s acceptance of outside ideas.  Companies wrongly believe that no one else can understand the challenges they are facing and therefore outside solutions will not work.  This is nothing more than pride.

Its not plagiarism if you cite your sources

When I worked for The Forum Corporation, a large global training and development firm, in the 90’s I made myself a bit of a reputation for being able to crank out successful solutions for clients fast.  This wasn’t because I was smarter than the others in my role (I wasn’t even close).  Rather this was because Forum over its 20+ year history had amassed an amazing library of already created solutions.  Combine this library with an ahead of its time knowledge management system courtesy of Judy Green and you have my PED.  That and I had no pride.  I was happy to acknowledge that I couldn’t build anything better than what had come before and that my skill was actually building off that base to ensure a perfect fit for a client’s culture, audience, industry, etc.  I was the king of cut and paste and had earned the right to be thrown into every client situation with an impossible deadline.

“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – George S. Patton

Today there is so much information available that anyone trying to make themselves or their business perform better can take the same approach.  You never have to start from a blank slate. Instead you can focus on the adaptation and application of pre-existing information to your specific situation.  Do I think that “metrics for pirates” is perfect?  No, but it is good enough and I would rather spend my time launching the company than in a room talking about the perfect scorecard for measuring the launch. Some people would feel guilty watching the number of start-up related videos I do.  Or reading the number of business blogs, or tweets or random linked pages that I do.  I don’t.  Start-ups and angels don’t care whether the ideas are mine or not.  They work with me because I deliver results (I am a “growth hacker” to use Sean Ellis’ term).

Simple as A.B.L. (always be learning)

This is not to say that original thinking is not needed.  It absolutely is.  So is a quality filter.  All I am saying is that if you are not constantly looking outside for learnings you run the risk of spending time re-creating the wheel rather than growing your company.  That and AARRR! Is really fun to say.

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