All in Private Equity

Some Things Don’t Change

I was thinking about the Dotcom era of the late 90s and the euphoria that gripped the markets for those few years as stocks climbed to record breaking levels.

The news of the day was engaged in a fevered debate - were we in a new era, one where the old models had become hopelessly outdated? Or was this simply another fad, not unlike Dutch Tulips, a bubble that would burst in due course, once we all came to our senses?

You Won't Change The World By Cutting Costs

Strategy is an interesting topic.

You and I can be working in similar areas of management. We can have gone through the same set of experiences in our time at our organization. We can even have a similar view of what defines success in our chosen markets. Yet we can have markedly different perspectives as to what approach it will take to get there. And that’s perfectly normal - in fact, it’s almost always a good thing.

When It's Too Soon To Quit...

In my last post, I talked about the thought process we (should) go through when deciding if it’s time to quit what we’re doing.

While there were multiple idea threads that inspired that post, one of them was an article by Mariam Naficy, the Founder and CEO of Minted, an online design marketplace. In that article, Mariam talked about how she raised a small seed round from friends and family and then launched the business, originally intending it to be a lifestyle business. And then:

How Do You Measure Success?

We’re in a business environment that, for the most part, is fixated on growth. One that values year over year, double and triple digit revenue increases as absolutely essential to being considered a “successful” company, to not be considered a failure.

In particular, if the organization is funded, that’s almost always a base level expectation. You aren’t being funded to simply create a going concern, you’ve been given a charter to create something transformative, huge, the next proverbial unicorn. (The more prominent the funders, the more prominent this expectation becomes.)

There's Always Room For Value (Part 1 - Markets and Customers)

All too often, when we’re evaluating a new product or service idea, we get caught up in the notion of '“competitive dominance”. That there can only be one competitor who owns that space and, hence, competing in that market is a non-starter. Or, alternately, that there are so many players that that market has become commoditized. Either way, there’s no point playing in that space because the opportunity (for us) is gone.

If You Have To Brag About How Busy You Are...

I’m so busy. I’ve got a ton going on. I don’t have the time. We hear (and say) these phrases regularly, and to little surprise, given all that we might have on our plate at any given time.

In most ways, of course, it’s good to be busy. To experience the buzz you get when things at work are humming along, when you’re in full flow and driving towards whatever goals you’re working towards.

The flip side, though, is when we feel as if we have to be this way all the time - and worse, to show it, and constantly say it.

When AOL Tanked (Or Paying Attention To The Right Metrics)

Sometime between late Spring and early Fall, 1996, AOL’s stock fell from a high of $70 all the way down to $24.

These were the early days of the internet. The space was booming: startups were popping up everywhere, investors’ ears were perking up, and the big, established players were taking notice and/or beginning to get involved.

To Inspire or To Intimidate?

Think of the most exciting job you’ve done, the best initiative you’ve been part of, the most rewarding experience you’ve had. What was the underlying basis of that experience, the focus of the leadership in that situation? Were you excited? Were you focused on moving towards something? Were you inspired?

The Point Is Productive Struggle

We crave clear cut answers. We love How-To’s. We keep looking for the ultimate 10 Step Process.

Why? Because we’re always on the hunt for clarity, predictability and, more to the point, security. It’s a natural human desire.

The problem, though, is that when we’re creating (a team, a piece of output, a business), that’s not often possible or realistic.

The Path To Success Isn't a Straight Line

We tend to romanticize the path to success. We maintain this perception that getting there was a straight-forward path. Particularly when we see others achieve it. This view that these folks took step 1, then step 2, and so on and so forth, until they achieved what they set out to do. That it was a clean path. That things just happened for them.

The truth is…

It's About Your Expectations And Action

It's natural. We start a new project or new initiative and we get excited, as we should be. We see the potential for change, the potential impact and we want to make sure it's a success.

So we plan. We think through our goals, all the needs and requirements, where we need to get  to. We identify the piece parts needed to make for our definition of success, because…

Don’t Join The Herd

A few years ago, Professor Jens Krause at the University of Leeds conducted numerous experiments where he and his team asked groups of people to walk randomly around a large hall. Unbeknownst to the majority, a few individuals were given specific instructions as to where they should walk. No one in the group (informed or otherwise) was allowed to communicate (verbal or non-verbally) and everyone had to stay within arms length of each other.