What Makes an Entrepreneur (8/11) – Detail Orientation

Posted on Jan 26, 2010 | 102 comments


graph magnifying glassThis is part of my series on what makes an entrepreneur successful.  I originally posted it on VentureHacks, one of my favorite websites for entrepreneurs.  The full list is now posted there if you want a sneak preview.  I’ll try to add a few extra comments in my posts to keep it interesting.

I started the series talking about what I consider the most important attribute of an entrepreneur : Tenacity.  I then covered Street SmartsAbility to PivotResiliencyInspiration, Perspiration and Willingness to Take Risks.

8. Detail Orientation / Hands On – One of the easiest ways to rule out people who are pitching to me is when they don’t know the details of their business.  There are easy tell-tale signs.  I’ll start with an obvious one – I talk with the entrepreneur about competitors.  You can always tell during this discussion whether the entrepreneur has logged into their products, talked to their customers, read all the news stories and gotten all of the back channel info on the competition.  You can tell if they have a deep-seated competitive spirit.  Can’t go a mile deep on competition?  Buh-bye.

Let’s talk about your product or let’s look at your financial projections.  Can’t walk me through it on a granular basis?  Did someone else pull you’re financial model together while you did “your job?”  Not good enough.  The best entrepreneurs focus on details.  They can tell you the square foot costs of their property, they can tell you how much they spend on Amazon Web Services every month, they can tell you the 12 features that you’re working on for your next release.

One other big tell for me is the CEO’s grasp of the sales pipeline.  I can’t tell you how many CEO’s I’ve met with who can’t walk me through the details of their sales pipeline.  I want the names of the key buyers, the last time you met them, who the competition is and what are the criteria for a decision.  You think we’re just going to talk about your largest lead?  Sorry.  Let’s go through the whole pipeline, please.  I care about the details but I’m more interested in finding out whether you do.

Along with detail orientation I have a strong bias for “doers.”  When I ask for a quick demo and the CEO tells me that he’ll schedule a follow-on meeting with his sales rep because, “I’m not a demo guy.  The sales team doesn’t like me to give demos,” I usually think to myself, “a follow up meeting probably isn’t necessary.”  Similarly if you need your CFO to walk me through your financial model you’re probably not the right investment for me.  Ask any of the previous CFO’s when I was the CEO – they did the hard work but I edited the spreadsheets cell-by-cell.  In fact, I usually built the first 3 versions of the financial model (but then my ADD took over and I needed a great closer to make the model complete.  Luckily I had CFO extraordinaire, David Lapter, who’s now the CFO at KickApps.  One of his investors called him, “the best CFO in our entire portfolio.”)

I wrote a blog post about being hands on where I argued that startup founders need to be hands-on or in my words, “you can’t run a burger chain if you’ve never flipped burgers.”

I once had a startup team pitch me for an investment where the President of the company led the first call with me on his own.  I told him that “president” was a strange title for a startup.  He announced that they also had a CEO.  Interesting, “what are your different roles?” I asked.  He told me that the CEO set the strategy but that he, the President, traveled to all of the conferences evangelizing on behalf of the company.  Hmmm, “so who runs the company on a daily basis?” “Oh,” he responded, “we have a COO.”  The company had sub $1 million in revenue and was burning $850k / month.  It had a strategy-setting CEO, a limelight-seeking President and a COO who ran the company.

I gave one of the cheekiest responses I have given in my 2.5 years as a VC, “You don’t want to raise money from me.  The first thing I would do is fire you.  Then I’d fire the CEO. Then I’d cut the burn to a realistic level and build a company.”  (yes, I really said this)

They got their round done anyway from a big late-stage VC.  One of the large parts of the burn was PR, Marketing and attending conferences.  As I said, there are VCs who are fooled by all this but it doesn’t equal success.  12 months later the president and the CEO had moved on.  Bad VCs funded this madness in the first place and weren’t close enough to the company to see what was going on.  When the CEO of an early-stage startup tells me that they plan to hire a COO I’m usually not interested in the next meeting.

It’s different when you’re co-founders and one person gets the title COO. But even then I think it’s funny.  Anyone who’s ever presented to me with these titles hears the same questions: “OK, so who does tech report to?  Who does finance report to?  Who does sales report to?  You’re slitting that stuff?  Then what does COO mean?  Isn’t it a confusing title?”  My vote is that co-founders should pick one lead as the CEO and the other should have a functional role & title like Head of Sales & Marketing, CTO, VP marketing or whatever.  But that’s a digression.

Funny side-note:  The company was recently nominated for a Crunchie Award.  Money can’t buy you ultimate success but it’s clear that money CAN buy you awards. Unfortunately.

Funny side-note 2: The title of the post was orginally published saying 7/11 when it is clearly the 8th post.  Obviously I updated it.  Thanks to Phillip @fillup for spotting.  How ironic on a post titled detail orientation.  Thanks for spotting, Phillip!  Originally it was the 7th post when I wrote the whole series back in November but I ended up editing before VentureHacks published. Still, pretty funny.

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Love it. “I gave one of the cheekiest responses I have given in my 2.5 years as a VC, “You don’t want to raise money from me. The first thing I would do is fire you. Then I’d fire the CEO. Then I’d cut the burn to a realistic level and build a company.” (yes, I really said this)”. Anyone who does not do real work can't get paid in a startup – there is no room for what we call “spreadsheet forwarderers”. And you don't need a CFO or CPA to build a model for you – you need to learn how to use excel.

    I had a would be entrepreneur stop in this morning looking for advice on how to find “an outsourced dev and operations team that will build her idea into a business so that I don't have to quit my job”. I politely tried to convince that person not to waste their time or money.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    If I had a dollar for everybody I ever met who wanted to “outsource the building of their company!”

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Mark – next time you are in NYC, I'd love to grab a drink. Email me at elie @ oyster dot com if you have a chance.

  • http://twitter.com/royrubin05 Roy Rubin

    Love it Mark! Great insight and I had a good laugh reading the 'cheekie' comment.

    As an entrepreneur, you have to walk a fine line by getting bogged down by details vs. being attentive to them. As a perfectionist, I had to learn the hard way to let go and let the team execute, while keeping one hand in the pot.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    For sure. Nothing immediately planned but I'm there 2-3 times a year at least.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Ha ha. You know me well enough to know I would actually say it!

    Thanks for your input – spot on advice.

    Funny about details – you're right about the risk of being bogged down by them. When I started my first company in 1999 I had just been a consultant for Accenture. Like all consultants, we produced Powerpoint slides that were too detailed and too long. We recommended gold-plated solutions where gold was too expensive. We over analyzed data because it gave us comfort. So at first I spent too much time producing documentation, too much time gathering data and overspent on infrastructure “in advance of demand.” We were “perfectionists” and it hurt us in terms of speed and decision making.

    Of course I hired a bunch of McKinsey, BCG and Accenture folks. None worked out in the end. I like to say that consultants need 18 months of “walking the desert” before they're ready to be entrepreneurs. You learn great analysis tools and they certainly hire talented and bright people, but many don't have a realism for business. You need to unlearn consulting think.

  • sikakkar

    You mentioned the startup with a ridiculous burn rate and unnecessary roles – I think both really go hand in hand. From what I can tell (and I'm speaking from EXTREMELY limited experience here, so please correct me if I'm way off), the more a CEO loses a grasp on what's going on, the more likely the burn is to spike. It just seems to be a function of having one person who consolidates information and decisions in a startup vs not having that important pillar.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    yeah, there probably is some correlation. But I also worry about the VC that loses a grasp of what's going on

  • http://twitter.com/Kressilac Derek Licciardi

    How does your doer mentality change when multiple rounds of funding need to be raised? Should one of the founders be focused on raising additional rounds of funding instead of building the company from an operations standpoint? You mention that you would have fired two of the three executives to trim burn in your example. That's fine if they were in their last round of funding before revenue but what about companies that needed more? Is it left to existing investors to continue funding or to raise the additional funds? Would you cut the guy that was running around trying to raise the money by showing off what the COO was building?

    Questions aside, I agree with your title thoughts. I always feel weird saying I'm the president of my company because we've not yet accomplished our goals. In reality, I'm the human resources guy, the accounting guy and a whole host of other doer roles making the title president seem a bit frivolous. It's there mostly because if I hand my business card to a potential investor with a secondary title, I always get the feeling that they think, “Who should I really be talking to if this guy isn't the top dog in the company?”

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks for the questions, Derek:
    1. I think the top person is the fund raiser – that's part of the job responsibilities of a CEO. He can be helped by the CFO, Biz Dev, CTO, etc. But he / she leads the process. If you can't lead a sales process to raise money than should I trust you to lead a sales process for customers or biz dev partners? Lead doesn't mean doing the job solely yourself.
    2. Fund raising is a balancing act. You need to do it at the same time you're building products and landing revenue. It's like the president of a country – they can't just do “one thing.”
    3. There is no such thing as “fund raising season.” You're always raising money – even when you're not. Investors are an important part of the ecosystem and provide lots of value other than just their checkbooks – whether they invest in you or not. I cover that in this post: http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/08/08/w
    4. If you're the top dog I would use the title CEO. That way there is never any confusion. I know it sounds funny in a company of 3 people or whatever number you have when you first start the company – but it establishes precedence. When people see “president” (at least in the US) they think: 1. there is someone more senior or 2. you're positioning that maybe there should be someone more senior some day. Either way, I can't see any upside. If you do have someone in your company that's a CEO and if you're early stage (sub $5 million in revenue) then you really ought to have a functional title.

  • WeslyM3000

    I hope I am not being biased when I say this but as an entrepreneur my downfall is that I want to have a hand at everything. I need to see the numbers, I want to oversee the development and marketing, I must attend the meetings, and raise the funds. In the beginning it's all about wearing multiple hats and knowing every aspect of the company as you mentioned. it's like hiring a Nanny to take care of the kids, a boyfriend for your wife, a driver for your kids, a cook for the meals, you just become more and more disconnected with what's important – or the little things.

    On another note, “Funny side-note: The company was recently nominated for a Crunchie Award” this happens all the time, I see companies (competitors) raising funds and I'm like Dude..8M dollars? Sometimes we encourage non-sense in the tech space, and what's really going on is that companies like these run into the wall much faster than they would have because of this extra fuel.

  • Jason

    I found and started reading your blog two weeks ago and have learned a lot; thank you. I do have a quesion regarding what you wish you had a dollar for those who told you that they wanted to “outsource”. I guess so many people have that idea because there are indeed quite a few books suggesting people do that while keep their current job – I assume those books are talking about testing ideas from very small scale, not something that needs to get funded by VC. So, do you think the idea of starting a business from outsoucing is nonsense regardless the scale (in other words, those books aren't practical), or, it is only crazy for larger scale business plan? Thank you in advance.

  • patrickallen

    I couldn't agree with you more. As a current CEO of an early stage company, we've yet to hire a CFO or CPA. If you can't figure out how to build a model, there's no way you've got the aptitude to build a successful company. In today's world, the answers are all around us. If you've got the right mind and some extra bandwidth, teach yourself how to sculpt a kick ass model, so that one day when you're looking for a CFO you'll have the basic tools necessary to wade through the duds and select a star.

    Not to mention, no CEO should ever allow bandwidth lag. Fill the gaps. Put in the effort, and you can teach yourself anything… just make sure your new project aligns with a milestone and serves a purpose in your march to glory.

    To Mark's point, if a CEO doesn't know the in's n out's of his/her business, in my opinion he/she is severely lacking in a critical department that affects many of the keys to “what makes an entrepreneur successful;” Passion. Granted, passion needs to be harnessed/focused because unfounded passion can lead to blindness and mayhem, but a great entrepreneur yearns to know the details. I don't want to know my business, I want to KNOW my business.

    You're either hands on, or you should be benched.

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Good points. I wonder if this is particular to execs from BigCo who leave to become entrepreneurs. They forget that a small company is as similar to a big company as a cat is to a whale. The skills of being effective in a BigCo – managing others to do the work while taking the credit yourself – are not relevant to a startup and in fact are counterproductive. It's why I always find the massively funded startups with big “executive teams” to be rather funny. If you have the cost structure of a big company, the slowness of a big company (big exec team is very likely to be slow) and the financial resources (cost of capital) of a startup, you've got the worst of all worlds and it's not hard to predict what will happen.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    This dovetails nicely with your 1-2 founders max advice. But:

    One of the problems I've found is that many investors can't seem to get their round the fact that only one person wrote all the code, filed the patent, did the market analysis – and wrote the business plan, slides and DCF.

    You would think that would be a plus point, but in hicksville it's not.

    I think it can be dangerous to overestimate who you're talking to (present company excluded, of course)

  • http://www.jasonspalace.com/ jasonspalace

    so how did you overcome this challenge David?

    just because they don't get it, doesn't mean it isn't real!

  • patrickallen

    could very well be. It also boils down to character. As mark said in his tenacity bit, “ya know it when you see it.” same applies here. within 2 minutes you'll know if the CEO gets his hands dirty or wears white gloves.

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Love it. “I gave one of the cheekiest responses I have given in my 2.5 years as a VC, “You don’t want to raise money from me. The first thing I would do is fire you. Then I’d fire the CEO. Then I’d cut the burn to a realistic level and build a company.” (yes, I really said this)”. Anyone who does not do real work can't get paid in a startup – there is no room for what we call “spreadsheet forwarderers”. And you don't need a CFO or CPA to build a model for you – you need to learn how to use excel.

    I had a would be entrepreneur stop in this morning looking for advice on how to find “an outsourced dev and operations team that will build her idea into a business so that I don't have to quit my job”. I politely tried to convince that person not to waste their time or money.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    If I had a dollar for everybody I ever met who wanted to “outsource the building of their company!”

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Mark – next time you are in NYC, I'd love to grab a drink. Email me at elie @ oyster dot com if you have a chance.

  • http://twitter.com/royrubin05 Roy Rubin

    Love it Mark! Great insight and I had a good laugh reading the 'cheekie' comment.

    As an entrepreneur, you have to walk a fine line by getting bogged down by details vs. being attentive to them. As a perfectionist, I had to learn the hard way to let go and let the team execute, while keeping one hand in the pot.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    For sure. Nothing immediately planned but I'm there 2-3 times a year at least.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Ha ha. You know me well enough to know I would actually say it!

    Thanks for your input – spot on advice.

    Funny about details – you're right about the risk of being bogged down by them. When I started my first company in 1999 I had just been a consultant for Accenture. Like all consultants, we produced Powerpoint slides that were too detailed and too long. We recommended gold-plated solutions where gold was too expensive. We over analyzed data because it gave us comfort. So at first I spent too much time producing documentation, too much time gathering data and overspent on infrastructure “in advance of demand.” We were “perfectionists” and it hurt us in terms of speed and decision making.

    Of course I hired a bunch of McKinsey, BCG and Accenture folks. None worked out in the end. I like to say that consultants need 18 months of “walking the desert” before they're ready to be entrepreneurs. You learn great analysis tools and they certainly hire talented and bright people, but many don't have a realism for business. You need to unlearn consulting think.

  • http://10pens.com sikakkar

    You mentioned the startup with a ridiculous burn rate and unnecessary roles – I think both really go hand in hand. From what I can tell (and I'm speaking from EXTREMELY limited experience here, so please correct me if I'm way off), the more a CEO loses a grasp on what's going on, the more likely the burn is to spike. It just seems to be a function of having one person who consolidates information and decisions in a startup vs not having that important pillar.

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    yeah, there probably is some correlation. But I also worry about the VC that loses a grasp of what's going on

  • http://twitter.com/Kressilac Derek Licciardi

    How does your doer mentality change when multiple rounds of funding need to be raised? Should one of the founders be focused on raising additional rounds of funding instead of building the company from an operations standpoint? You mention that you would have fired two of the three executives to trim burn in your example. That's fine if they were in their last round of funding before revenue but what about companies that needed more? Is it left to existing investors to continue funding or to raise the additional funds? Would you cut the guy that was running around trying to raise the money by showing off what the COO was building?

    Questions aside, I agree with your title thoughts. I always feel weird saying I'm the president of my company because we've not yet accomplished our goals. In reality, I'm the human resources guy, the accounting guy and a whole host of other doer roles making the title president seem a bit frivolous. It's there mostly because if I hand my business card to a potential investor with a secondary title, I always get the feeling that they think, “Who should I really be talking to if this guy isn't the top dog in the company?”

  • http://bothsidesofthetable.com msuster

    Thanks for the questions, Derek:
    1. I think the top person is the fund raiser – that's part of the job responsibilities of a CEO. He can be helped by the CFO, Biz Dev, CTO, etc. But he / she leads the process. If you can't lead a sales process to raise money than should I trust you to lead a sales process for customers or biz dev partners? Lead doesn't mean doing the job solely yourself.
    2. Fund raising is a balancing act. You need to do it at the same time you're building products and landing revenue. It's like the president of a country – they can't just do “one thing.”
    3. There is no such thing as “fund raising season.” You're always raising money – even when you're not. Investors are an important part of the ecosystem and provide lots of value other than just their checkbooks – whether they invest in you or not. I cover that in this post: http://www.bothsidesofthetable.com/2009/08/08/w
    4. If you're the top dog I would use the title CEO. That way there is never any confusion. I know it sounds funny in a company of 3 people or whatever number you have when you first start the company – but it establishes precedence. When people see “president” (at least in the US) they think: 1. there is someone more senior or 2. you're positioning that maybe there should be someone more senior some day. Either way, I can't see any upside. If you do have someone in your company that's a CEO and if you're early stage (sub $5 million in revenue) then you really ought to have a functional title.

  • WeslyM3000

    I hope I am not being biased when I say this but as an entrepreneur my downfall is that I want to have a hand at everything. I need to see the numbers, I want to oversee the development and marketing, I must attend the meetings, and raise the funds. In the beginning it's all about wearing multiple hats and knowing every aspect of the company as you mentioned. it's like hiring a Nanny to take care of the kids, a boyfriend for your wife, a driver for your kids, a cook for the meals, you just become more and more disconnected with what's important – or the little things.

    On another note, “Funny side-note: The company was recently nominated for a Crunchie Award” this happens all the time, I see companies (competitors) raising funds and I'm like Dude..8M dollars? Sometimes we encourage non-sense in the tech space, and what's really going on is that companies like these run into the wall much faster than they would have because of this extra fuel.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    This is something I've been wondering for some time… what stage does it make sense for a company to have a CFO?

  • Jason

    I found and started reading your blog two weeks ago and have learned a lot; thank you. I do have a quesion regarding what you wish you had a dollar for those who told you that they wanted to “outsource”. I guess so many people have that idea because there are indeed quite a few books suggesting people do that while keep their current job – I assume those books are talking about testing ideas from very small scale, not something that needs to get funded by VC. So, do you think the idea of starting a business from outsoucing is nonsense regardless the scale (in other words, those books aren't practical), or, it is only crazy for larger scale business plan? Thank you in advance.

  • patrickallen

    I couldn't agree with you more. As a current CEO of an early stage company, we've yet to hire a CFO or CPA. If you can't figure out how to build a model, there's no way you've got the aptitude to build a successful company. In today's world, the answers are all around us. If you've got the right mind and some extra bandwidth, teach yourself how to sculpt a kick ass model, so that one day when you're looking for a CFO you'll have the basic tools necessary to wade through the duds and select a star.

    Not to mention, no CEO should ever allow bandwidth lag. Fill the gaps. Put in the effort, and you can teach yourself anything… just make sure your new project aligns with a milestone and serves a purpose in your march to glory.

    To Mark's point, if a CEO doesn't know the in's n out's of his/her business, in my opinion he/she is severely lacking in a critical department that affects many of the keys to “what makes an entrepreneur successful;” Passion. Granted, passion needs to be harnessed/focused because unfounded passion can lead to blindness and mayhem, but a great entrepreneur yearns to know the details. I don't want to know my business, I want to KNOW my business.

    You're either hands on, or you should be benched.

  • http://www.elieseidman.com Elie Seidman

    Good points. I wonder if this is particular to execs from BigCo who leave to become entrepreneurs. They forget that a small company is as similar to a big company as a cat is to a whale. The skills of being effective in a BigCo – managing others to do the work while taking the credit yourself – are not relevant to a startup and in fact are counterproductive. It's why I always find the massively funded startups with big “executive teams” to be rather funny. If you have the cost structure of a big company, the slowness of a big company (big exec team is very likely to be slow) and the financial resources (cost of capital) of a startup, you've got the worst of all worlds and it's not hard to predict what will happen.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    This dovetails nicely with your 1-2 founders max advice. But:

    One of the problems I've found is that many investors can't seem to get their round the fact that only one person wrote all the code, filed the patent, did the market analysis – and wrote the business plan, slides and DCF.

    You would think that would be a plus point, but in hicksville it's not.

    I think it can be dangerous to overestimate who you're talking to (present company excluded, of course)

  • durssrg

    a great post.

    fun to read…

    http://www.meetrivers.blogspot.com/

  • http://markgslater.wordpress.com markslater

    thoroughly enjoying your series – and the immense detail you put in mark.

  • http://www.jasonspalace.com/ jasonspalace

    so how did you overcome this challenge David?

    just because they don't get it, doesn't mean it isn't real!

  • patrickallen

    could very well be. It also boils down to character. As mark said in his tenacity bit, “ya know it when you see it.” same applies here. within 2 minutes you'll know if the CEO gets his hands dirty or wears white gloves.

  • http://www.Escapingthe9to5.com/ Maren Kate

    Great post! I just found your blog & I like it :) Very cool stuff.. I will be sure to keep up with your posts.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Work in progress, Jason :)

    There's not much you can do when they say “we invest in the team, and we you're not one”.

    I have no intention of adding a vanity CV to the mix, but always open to adding someone with core skills and drive.

  • JH

    JFYI, typo in the first paragraph:
    I’ll try to add a few extra comments in my posts to keep in [it] interesting.

  • http://twitter.com/mikenarodovich Nads

    Mark, thank you for this series of posts as well as the time you spend reading/replying to comments.

    I felt pressured that being detail oriented was something I had to move away from to transition from a sales&mktg. leader (my past) to a CEO role (my new role); e.g. to be able to “grasp it all” functionally. Your post gives me a chance to think on it.

    Roy Rubin & WesleyM3000 bring up 2 good points which I would paraphrase into the following: the CEO should be responsible to balance detail-orientedness vs. perfectionism vs. micro-managing. All 3 behaviors have their time & place. I am trying to keep this balance in a cross-cultural environment (American in China) in my first role as CEO.

    One approach I've tried is sitting down w/new teammates and disclosing my detail-orientedness, then asking them to alert me when I'm leaning toward micro-managing (i.e. my sales/mktg. habits to micro-manage a demo are deeply ingrained.) We can then discuss and find a happy medium (harmony.) I remind myself to offer a 'gimmee', being patient on something less critical in the future. The results are mixed, but I suppose this is part of my learning curve (I'm 31 so let's face it, I'm winging it here.)

    As an aside, I'm from L.A. and follow you & SoCalTech on Twitter. Any LA-based tech start-up/VC types interfacing w/China that you know whom I can follow/connect with? We can DM if you like.

  • http://www.twitter.com/alexismichelle alexismichelle

    This is something I've been wondering for some time… what stage does it make sense for a company to have a CFO?

  • durssrg

    a great post.

    fun to read…

    http://www.meetrivers.blogspot.com/

  • http://markgslater.wordpress.com/ markslater

    thoroughly enjoying your series – and the immense detail you put in mark.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/sharelomer SharelOmer

    Thank you! these are great tips, see they way a vc think make you understand hwo a good company should be built.

    I love how you take your/others disadvantages and with a good team around making then an advantage, ADD often let break barriers and not live in comfort zone, but you need the great team/ecosystem/closers/reality people/action=results people around you to make you and them complete :)

    When building a company, what are the key rolls that should be “saved” when building a team, for example if there is a 2 man operation, one for biz and CTO, what are the most important key rolls to take up ahead: VP RnD, VP products, Biz Dev.. ?

  • http://www.Escapingthe9to5.com/ Maren Kate

    Great post! I just found your blog & I like it :) Very cool stuff.. I will be sure to keep up with your posts.

  • http://lmframework.com/blog/about David Semeria

    Work in progress, Jason :)

    There's not much you can do when they say “we invest in the team, and we you're not one”.

    I have no intention of adding a vanity CV to the mix, but always open to adding someone with core skills and drive.

  • JH

    JFYI, typo in the first paragraph:
    I’ll try to add a few extra comments in my posts to keep in [it] interesting.

  • http://twitter.com/mikenarodovich Nads

    Mark, thank you for this series of posts as well as the time you spend reading/replying to comments.

    I felt pressured that being detail oriented was something I had to move away from to transition from a sales&mktg. leader (my past) to a CEO role (my new role); e.g. to be able to “grasp it all” functionally. Your post gives me a chance to think on it.

    Roy Rubin & WesleyM3000 bring up 2 good points which I would paraphrase into the following: the CEO should be responsible to balance detail-orientedness vs. perfectionism vs. micro-managing. All 3 behaviors have their time & place. I am trying to keep this balance in a cross-cultural environment (American in China) in my first role as CEO.

    One approach I've tried is sitting down w/new teammates and disclosing my detail-orientedness, then asking them to alert me when I'm leaning toward micro-managing (i.e. my sales/mktg. habits to micro-manage a demo are deeply ingrained.) We can then discuss and find a happy medium (harmony.) I remind myself to offer a 'gimmee', being patient on something less critical in the future. The results are mixed, but I suppose this is part of my learning curve (I'm 31 so let's face it, I'm winging it here.)

    As an aside, I'm from L.A. and follow you & SoCalTech on Twitter. Any LA-based tech start-up/VC types interfacing w/China that you know whom I can follow/connect with? We can DM if you like.

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    great comment Roy. I agree that it's a fine line and important balance. It's an interesting transition for an entrepreneur as a company starts getting bigger, helped by being surrounded by people you really can count on.