Today I cleaned out part of my dropbox account and ran across a doc with an email I had saved from 2009 that I thought was particularly insightful on how to accomplish goals in life.
The backstory is that I had listened to an extremely successful gentleman (chairman of a multi-billion dollar public airline, board member of dozens of other public and private companies, former CEO, extremely successful investor) give his life story and he spoke a lot about how important goal setting and making lists was to his success. I asked him for specifics on setting goals and he responded with his goal setting framework. I thought it was useful and wanted to share it here (partly so I’ll have a public place to look back on it a bit more often).
From the number of questions I’ve had, I can tell that it’s probably time to write out my thoughts on goal-setting. I’ve not yet done so.
[redacted personal info]
My list of Startups that are going to be huge in 2012 are:
1) Our company, Circle. If I didn’t 1oo% believe this, I’d be doing something else.
2) Pinterest – I haven’t seen such an engaged online community of women (who overwhelmingly account for purchase decisions) since Gilt and Pinterest is much more powerful as it is more authentic and engaging.
3) Square – This was on my list last year. It is a no brainer.
4) Nest – Tony Fadell is a genius and amazing product guy who learned directly from Jobs. The thermostat is just the beginning. They are going to make big waves in the home appliance market.
5) Simple – This one is a huge hope as I desperately need online banking that works.
6) Trialpay – CEO Alex Rampell is damn bright. They could very well IPO in 2012 or soon thereafter.
7) MinoMonsters – Watch Josh Buckley over the next 15 years and be amazed. This could be the next Angry Birds.
8) Lookout – Mobile security is going to become more and more important.
9) Andreessen-Horowitz – Although, I believe they have already done it, pretty much everyone else will agree that they are the number one Venture Capital firm in existence. They will be able to get almost any deal they want (besides ones where other firms are paying leaps and bounds more) and will consistently be the entrepreneurs’ first choice.
It is the first day of the year 2012 (despite what WordPress says… I think it is on UTC and I don’t feel like wasting my time going through their shitty UI to change it). I am not a fan of making “New Year’s Resolutions” as I think having them once a year gives people an excuse to wait to make important life goals and does not provide enough accountability on a consistent basis.
For me, taking time each month to reflect seems to be a more effective timeframe. Jack Dorsey tweeted today that his resolution was (and always is) to Simplify and that really resonated with me. Running a startup is incredibly stressful and full of necessary decisions, thoughtful analysis, and unexpected turns. To make the company most likely to succeed, it makes sense to simplify every other part of my life so I don’t waste time and energy on things that simply don’t matter like what to wear, what to eat…
I want to make sure that everything I do gives Hawthorne Labs the best chance of making a huge impact on the way the world works. The other thing that is important is accountability on a consistent basis. ”That what is measured, improves.” I believe companies as well as ourselves should be metric driven and consistently analyzed, and that is how we can best improve.
Below is my plan for life simplification and accountability.
-Create a “Daily Impacts” list in the morning of the things I can do that day that will be impactful on the success of the company and follow up at night with which items I have completed
-Create Weekly Updates that go to a select group of personal and company advisors to make sure we are progressing as rapidly as possible on a weekly basis
-Set aside 1 hour each week to reflect on the professional positives and negatives of that week and whether anything should be changed
-Have a monthly plan for the company that is shared in-person to a group of company/personal advisors
-Morning hardcore workout 3 times per week
-Sleep a maximum of 7.5 hours per day (3:30a – 11:00a)
-Food (Same exact healthy diet each day)
-Come up with one simple and elegant outfit and buy in large quantities and wear each day
-Play Ultimate frisbee 2 hours every Saturday
- 1 night per week, do something totally different that could inspire me, hopefully with somebody that also inspires me (rave dance party, go to an orchestra concert, have magic tea, check out a museum etc)
- Set aside 2 hours each month to make sure I communicate with all the people that really inspire/better me to keep connected with them
That is pretty much every moment of my life encompassed in 12 bullet points. I’d love your thoughts.
When asked whether he had used drugs, he turned florid and abstract, saying: “I’m a believer in any method of mind expansion whether facilitated by meditation, religious experience or drug use. There is a value in using tools available to us, even if it is pharmacological in nature, if it expands the mind.”
Tell an entrepreneur to do something and he won’t do it.
Tell an entrepreneur he can’t do something and he will.
One motivation for a number of great entrepreneurs is being able to prove people wrong.
You will constantly be told you can’t do something. Use it as motivation. One of the greatest investors of all time once said about one of the greatest entrepreneurs of all time: “The best way to get Vinod Khosla to do something is to tell him it’s impossible.”
Do something that people said couldn’t be done and it changes the entire mental game.
I keep a bunch of “People Lists.” People are the most valuable thing in the success of any organization (and in Life).
Surrounding yourself by amazing people is a necessary component in achieving organizational success.
At LeWeb, Sean Parker noted that having an amazing group of people at Facebook was the key to the company’s success.
Just as important is removing people from your life or organization that do not contribute to positive performance and individual and organizational growth. Parker also mentioned that one of his greatest failures was in hiring the wrong people at Napster.
It is important to keep a clear distinction of people that will contribute to your success and I do it through keeping lists of people that I have come across in life.
Two such lists that I keep are 1) Personal Influencers and 2) Detractors. The first list is people that I hope to be able to work with some day (some I am lucky to already be working with) and criteria which includes intellect, hard work, loyalty, and proven success. These people have powerful insights into life and consistently impress me with their abilities. They are people I would start a company with in a second if given the opportunity and if not, folks that I simply want to get involved in my life in whatever way possible someday. I learn from them on every single interaction. The folks on this list are:
The second aforementioned list is of detractors. Unfortunately (or fortunately since it taught me invaluable lessons), I have met or worked with numerous people that have been extremely disloyal, demotivational, or simply not net positive in my life. I have found that by removing these people entirely, my own effectiveness and ability to grow increases exponentially.
It is important to know who in your life you should keep as close as possible and who to remove.
When you win, your company matters. Otherwise, it doesn’t.
Nobody else cares about your journey, they don’t give a shit about whether you slept under your desk or whether you took the lowest salary. They don’t care whether you ate Ramen noodles or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Nobody cares that you fucked up your relationship with your girlfriend. Nobody cares that you worked 20 hours a day for months.
Certainly, nobody cares if you “almost win.”
So do whatever it takes to win.
Don’t worry about what other people think about your startup.
Don’t feel sorry for yourself if things aren’t going according to plan.
You have a finite amount of time and energy so do only things that will help you win.
And don’t be afraid to try new things that might help you win. Since nothing matters until you win, you should be willing to try anything.
The greatest thing about startups is that it is the only game in the world that lasts as long as YOU want it to. Imagine playing a basketball game where there is no clock… the ONLY way to lose is if you stop playing.
Don’t quit and it is impossible to lose.
You make sure that the game ends only when you win.
You can fuck up a million times because nobody cares. People don’t remember the losers (as much as the Winklevosses try to lodge themselves in your memory, you’ll forget them unless they win). So don’t spend any energy on thinking about times that you didn’t win.
Simply figure out what it takes to win and do it. And never stop until you’ve done it.
In the end, only the winners matter.
We want to build a massive, game-changing organization.
Phase 1: “I don’t need money.”
Duration: 2-4 weeks
In this phase, you are seeking your “anchor investor” who will be the first person to put in money. You are meeting with smart angel investors (and potentially firms if they do seed investing) who are a fit for your startup. You are interviewing them to see whether they are a good fit for you. Do they ask smart questions? Do they understand your industry? Do you get along with them?
Spend 95% of the meeting talking about your product, users, and market and 5% talking about funding. Tell them “I don’t need money right now, but when do you think it makes sense for me to begin raising?” If they are really interested, they will ask about valuation, talk numbers, or tell you they want to invest. If they say it makes sense now AND they are interested, get them to commit and have them become the anchor.
Phase 2: “Closing.”
Duration: 3-4 weeks
You have your anchor, your term sheet, and your first money. Now you need to set your deadline (3 weeks from today) and tell potential investors you have “investor x” leading and ask if they want to be in the round or not. Ask your anchor for intros to any angels they think will be a good fit. If you are dealing with an experienced angel investor, they should decide within 2 meetings. If you are dealing with a firm, it should be, at MAX (depending on the amount) 3 meetings. First with one partner, second with a couple of partners and third a full partnership meeting (NOTE: this advice is just for a seed raise and not an A or anything after).
You are never asking for money nor do you ever need it. You are either meeting with investors to talk about your business or asking them whether they want to be included in the round you are about to close.
(PS… we are launching our invite-only beta app next week. signup to be a beta tester! Http://lal.com/home)