What good CEOs understand is that leadership isn’t about being nice or tough, it’s about relating to and influencing people. If a leader’s goal is to be nice, he may have to compromise his integrity and decision-making ability in the process of appeasing everyone. Obviously, he’s not going to be effective.
I teach my students to be value-based leaders. A value-based leader is self-reflective, someone who looks at a situation from all perspectives; who seeks to understand before being understood; who is willing to admit when he is wrong or when he doesn’t know; who has genuine humility and a belief that he can always get better.
As to the question of whether companies can afford to operate with a value-based leader—they can’t afford not to. Customers want to buy from companies that stand behind their products and deliver them through ethical means. Employees at all levels want to be valued as contributing partners. Companies that understand these concepts will do well and generate shareholder value.
I think university credentials are holding all of society back. For a thousand years, universities had little to do with making a living for most people in society. They were for training academics, churchmen, and lawyers, and for the scions of rich families to get to know each other. The majority of households became able to support themselves by mechanisms other than going to college.
It is only in the last generation (VERY recently in the thousand year history of the system) that universities have become almost the monopoly source of employment qualification. How ironic is it that as economic activity diversifies, qualification for entry narrows into a single queue?
One result of the university being the only door into the entire economy is that people assume that the way to do the best in the economy is to do the best in the university system. Get the most elite degree possible, and you’ll have your pick of elite careers.
But it doesn’t work that way. The university and the economy are two different worlds. People with PhDs in Etruscan history from Harvard are elite in the university system, and for every ten of them, there will be one academic job available. The other nine will have to leave the system and be no more qualified than people with far more ordinary degrees to be of value in the real economy.
But they’ll think they deserve more because, after all, they were the winners of the system that everyone has to go through to qualify for a job. What a mess.
The sooner we can diversify the training and credentialing system to match the diversified economy, the better.
Mission Critical & Internal
- Campfire - Internal team communication
- Github - Source code hosting
- Sprintly - Product management
- Mixpanel - Web and iOS metrics
- Testflight - iOS build distribution
- LastPass - Password management and sharing
- Postmark - Email deliverability
- Airbrake - Exception notification (for both iOS and API/Web)
- New Relic - Web performance monitoring
- Pingdom - Server monitoring
With great investors, you always know where you stand. You know if they’re still evaluating the deal, if they’ve passed or if they’re in.
Over and over again I saw this play out with Boxcar. Top tier investors - name brands - that we interacted with always let us know where we stood. Whether that was a simple “no thanks, we’re passing” or a “come back in and let’s have another conversation”, we at least knew what was going on.
That’s important because fundraising is hard. Rejection hurts, but it closes the loop. It lets you put your attention towards other investors.
Not replying to an entrepreneur’s follow-up email is bullshit. You’re not that busy. If you think you are, get your assistant to do it. It’s not that hard and it’s incredibly disrespectful to the companies trying to get your attention.
More so than any person I ever met in my life, he had the ability to change his mind, much more so than anyone I’ve ever met. He could be so sold on a certain direction and in a nanosecond (Cook snaps his fingers) have a completely different view. (Laughs.) I thought in the early days, “Wow, this is strange.” Then I realized how much of a gift it was. So many people, particularly, I think, CEOs and top executives, they get so planted in their old ideas, and they refuse or don’t have the courage to admit that they’re now wrong. Maybe the most underappreciated thing about Steve was that he had the courage to change his mind. And you know—it’s a talent. It’s a talent.
I wonder how long this one will last?”, asked the Web to his friend Email. “Who knows”, said Email, “Facebook is still around”. “Aye”, nodded the Web, “Winter might be longer this time around, but inevitably Spring will return”.
Love this quote.