Do VCs really add value? — Founders say sometimes.

Source: HackerNoon, Jul 2018

our research interestingly shows that…

…if you offer compelling deal terms with speed you are likely to outcompete even the strongest brand firm.

In closing, VCs and portfolio founders generally have the same ambitions — to build an amazing company. Personal chemistry between the founder and VC matters the most, and the tangible value-add VCs think they provide is discounted by founders.

 

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Emerson: Self-Reliance, Cultivating Your Genius and The Curse Of Society

Source: MyStudentVoices, May 2018

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, — that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense; for the inmost in due time becomes the outmost…”

Emerson tells us to believe in ourselves and speak openly and candidly what we believe to be true.

Many of us are afraid to share our innermost thoughts in fear of criticism and backlash. We are careful to mask our words, to make sure they are ambiguous and safe so as to not hurt anyone’s feelings or create any misunderstandings.

Many of us believe we have nothing valuable to share. We have flashes of brilliance in our ideas, artwork or writing, but our fears stop us before we can even try. We doubt our skills in our creative endeavors, and allow our minds to be the biggest obstacle.

Emerson tells you to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men. Most of us are too afraid to speak up, and find ourselves gravitating toward those who dare to break the silence.

When you are brave enough to speak what you believe to be true, you will find that others agree with you but were simply keeping silent, hoping for someone like you to express your own opinion first to see if what they hold is acceptable or rational.

He tells us that imitation is suicide, because our path is different than the person next to us. To emulate someone else’s life as your own would not be living your own life. You are simply imitating someone else’s way of life and will never find happiness or fulfillment.

Emerson tells us to take action and get to work. He tells us that to envy great and successful people is to be ignorant. What’s the point of being jealous of what other people have and what paths other people are walking? We are simply unaware of what we truly want in our lives and decide that living the life that “looks” fun, comfortable and filled with luxury is what we want.

We should not be afraid to speak our mind. If we find that we are misinformed or ignorant, there is more for us to gain. If we find that our views were rigid, harmful or unacceptable, at least we will be able to know that we were wrong and could make efforts to improve ourselves as smarter and balanced individuals.

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the luster of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty”

In order to not feel alone, we have chosen to conform. We have given up our individuality, our abilities to be our true selves, to be included in a society… and then wonder why we have to wear masks and hide our true selves in our social interactions.

We crave solitude but love companionship. It is the cruel paradox of the human experience.

We have long ignored the inner voice within us. We are all capable of becoming geniuses, artists, writers and innovators.

If we all did not worry about what people think about us and envy the lives of others, what kind of world could we create for the next generation?

If we all took responsibility for our lives and set on improving ourselves, what would this world look like in the next 50 years?

If you took responsibility to change your life from this point forward, what would you look like in the next few years? You will become a strong individual, a person to look up to, a capable, respectable and impressive being.

If you learned to be self-reliant and were able to stand proud and strong even if society crumbled before you, what have you to fear?

“What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

 

Improve Your Speaking Skills

Source: Medium, Jul 2018

Make every word count

All the TED Residency talks were capped at six minutes. While that might sound like a ludicrously short amount of time, it’s actually a great forcing function and gives you ample opportunity to explore an idea.

Assuming you speak around 150 words per minutes, that’s 900 words, or the length of a short blog post or opinion piece. You can say quite a bit at that word count, if you do it right. This recent NYTimes op-ed on criminal justice reform, for instance, is only 850 words.

Start strong

The best talks grab you from the first moment and never lets you go. Research done by Vanessa Van Edwards and her team at Science of People found that the top TED talks receive similar ratings on intelligence, charisma, and credibility when someone watches the whole talk, or just the first seven seconds.

Know your through-line

TED’s motto is “ideas worth sharing”. Their talks center around a core idea or message. If there was one word that I heard over and over again at TED, it was “through-line”. Here’s how TED’s Speaker’s Handbook elaborates on this:

Every talk should have a through-line, a connecting theme that ties together each narrative element.

Think of the through-line as a strong cord onto which you will attach all the elements that are part of the idea you’re building.

A good exercise is to try to encapsulate your through-line in no more than 15 words. What is the precise idea you want to build inside your listeners? What is their takeaway?

  • Amy Cuddy’s through-line might have been something like: Small changes in your posture can profoundly influence your mental and emotional state (13 words)
  • Daniel Pink’s through-line might have been something like: We have to stop using carrots-and-stick incentives if we want thoughtful, creative work (15 words)
  • My talk’s through-line was this: The future of work demands we hire people for their ability to perform, not their resume (14 words)

Rehearse like your life depends on it

This aspect of the TED talk experience was not a surprise to me, and if you’ve read my guide to deliberate practice, it won’t be a surprise to you either.

The number one reason TED speakers look and sound fantastic is because they invest an enormous amount of time preparing for their talk. Most of them reach what Wait But Why author Tim Urban of calls “Happy-Birthday-Level Memorized”.

Tell stories

We often miss opportunities to pursuade because we don’t tell enough stories.

I am all for making decisions using logic and data. But it’s hard to get people interested in pure data without a story behind it. A number doesn’t matter until you understand where the number is coming from and what it means.

What is your body saying?


The last thing I’ll touch on is your physical presence. When you speak, it’s not just about the sounds you’re producing from your throat. Impact also depends on your facial expressions, your gestures, and your body language.

A talk delivered with slumped shoulders, glazed over eyes, and a hunched-over posture sounds pathetic compared to those same words being said with an open upright chest, expansive gestures, and a smile.

Going back to the Science of People research, Van Edwards found that speakers who smiled more were rated as more intelligent.

It can feel strange to smile so much at a group of strangers, particularly when you are talking about something that might be pretty serious, but smiling puts people at ease and lets them know they can trust you, which may lead to their trusting what you have to say.

when they looked at the total number of hand motions, whether up-and-down or side-to-side, they found it correlated with number of views of that presentation. Her hypothesis:

If you’re watching a talk and someone’s moving their hands, it gives your mind something else to do in addition to listening. So you’re doubly engaged. For the talks where someone is not moving their hands a lot, it’s almost like there’s less brain engagement, and the brain is like, “this is not exciting” — even if the content’s really good.

Disney Music

Focus

Source: HBR, Jul 2018

Schedule Important Tasks, and Give Yourself Way More Time Than You’ll Need

Research shows that scheduling when and where you’ll do something makes it dramatically more likely that the task will get done.

Isolate the Most Impactful Elements of Important Tasks

Big tasks often require incremental progress.

Spend Less Time on Unimportant Tasks

Unimportant tasks have a nasty tendency of taking up more time than they should.

Prioritize Tasks That Will Reduce Your Number of Urgent but Unimportant Tasks

The sorts of scenarios you most want to avoid are fixing the same problems over and over or giving the same instructions repeatedly. To overcome a pattern of spending all day “chasing cows,” you can outsource, automate, batch small tasks, eliminate tasks, streamline your workflow, or create templates for recurring tasks. Look for situations in which you can make an investment of time once to set up a system that will save you time in the future, such as setting up a recurring order for office supplies rather than ordering items one at a time as you run out.

Pay Attention to What Helps You See (and Track) the Big Picture

How Not to be a Boring Person

Source: The Zman blog, Jul 2018

A good way to stop yourself from being that guy is to always invite others to tell their story or comment on the topic of conversation. 

The first thing you notice about boring people is they never seem to have a point to their stories and anecdotes. When telling a story in a social setting, you should always have a point. No one cares about what you had for lunch, unless it was something bizarre or unusual.

What’s important is you have some reason for telling the story. This is a courtesy to the listener. By having a point, you are showing respect to the listener, whether it it by sharing information with them or making them laugh with an amusing story.

Another way to avoid being the boring guy everyone avoids is to never tell a story that requires a back story. 

The boring also have a funny habit of talking over people. They ignore the little things others do to signal to the the boring that they need to stop talking. 

Choosing a Blockchain (?)

Source: Quora, Jun 2018

The basic idea is that if you have multiple, decentralized writers to a database who do not trust one another, a blockchain could be a useful tool to maintain a trustworthy distributed database or ledger. However, it’s still not all that simple. To make a blockchain work, you need a perpetuating incentive system that drives all of the disparate, distrusting parties to certify one another’s work. Proof-of-work or proof-of-stake systems can work, but the system needs careful design to ensure that parties cannot collude to falsify information. It’s a hard problem.

Bitcoin brilliantly created a “mining” concept that “mints” currency based on “miners” doing work to certify blocks of transactions. The incentive system also had built in mathematical brakes and accelerators to prevent easy monopolization of mining. The system still runs the risk of more than 50% of mining resources falling under unified administrative control, in which case the majority can effectively lock out the minority, but that has yet to happen.