Company Building

Advice for entrepreneurs, founders, and business leaders who want to build high growth companies that are lasting.

The Founder’s Paradox: How Do You Build a Company Without Venture Capital When People Want to Give You Lots of Money?

founders paradox venture capital

“Can we grab a cup of coffee?” For some reason, this has become the casual beverage of choice for venture capitalists and just about anyone else who wants to get together and talk “growth.” But I do not drink coffee. And I have been pretty clear that our company is not looking for outside funding. Read more…

This Is How You Build a Radically Responsive Product Development Team

radically-responsive product development team

“I wish we could work this fast.” This is something our Aha! team hears a lot. It is true that our team works fast — really fast. Faster than any team I have ever worked with. But if you are thinking our speed is due to some top-secret sauce, you would be wrong. In fact, I will reveal the ingredients right now. Read more…

5 Years of Aha! — This Is What We Have Learned so Far

Aha! product management software company

Something different. This is what my co-founder Dr. Chris Waters and I had in mind when we founded Aha! five years ago. We had spent nearly 20 years working in Silicon Valley and building breakthrough products at both large technology companies and smaller startups. And in plain terms — we were successful in lots of meaningful ways but we experienced a lot we did not like in the process. Read more…

The Founder’s Paradox: How to Always Work and Avoid Burnout

founders paradox burnout

Burned out on burnout. No, that is not a typo. You read it right. Although it can seem like the flames are inescapable. This person is smoldering, that person is about to flare up, and over there Sam took a 6-month sabbatical. Spontaneous combustion — narrowly avoided. Read more…

14 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

books for entrepreneurs

I read a lot of books about strategy and leadership. But not in the way you might think. I find the best strategic lessons often come from the books that are not taught in business school and were not purposefully written about strategy. The authors probably did not even know they were providing strategic guidance. Read more…

The Founder’s Paradox: How Do You Listen to People You Trust Tell You It Cannot Be Done?

founders paradox brian de haaff

The brother of a friend — I had spoken with him in the past and he was thoughtful. Plus, I knew he was an experienced product manager who had built a number of important products. So after we launched Aha! in 2013, I thought he would be interested in our private beta. Well, he ended up stopping me about two minutes into my demo. This is what he said. Read more…

How to Spy on Your Team

spy on your team

The corporate spies are out there. Monitoring emails. Tracking phone calls. Even peeking into your computer. What is this covert operation? It is the company — the one you work for. I once even had an employer start backing up my computer automatically without telling me. Why were they afraid? There was no reason to be. I already backed my computer up regularly (per the company policy). Read more…

What Does Digital Transformation Really Mean?

what does digital transformation mean

Yes, it is true. I did recently write that I do not believe in digital transformation. Foolish? Maybe. But my point was a bit more nuanced. Improving technology and digital capabilities is not an end game. The goal is to deliver better customer experiences. Digital transformation is just one strategy that companies invest in as part of an enterprise-wide effort towards better serving customers and employees. That is the real objective. Read more…

Hey Boss: Your “Open Door” Policy Is a Joke

open door policy

The big boss strolls into the big corner office. “Remember, my door is always open,” they call out to the team. If this sounds like the start of a bad joke, that is because in a way it is. “Open door” policies are usually empty gestures. Because if you have to tell people that you are open and accessible, then it is probably not true. And you have a transparency problem.

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4 Ways Being Nice Is Hurting Your Career

are you too nice at work

Are we morally obligated to always tell the truth? What about telling a small fib with good intentions? White lies are one of those things that give deep thinkers fits. Soften or obscure the truth to avoid hurting somebody — it frequently happens at home and at work. And it is a problem. Because this ends up doing more harm than good. Read more…

The Founder’s Paradox: So You Want a Team of Superstars?

founders paradox superstars

Pelé. Beyonce. Chavez. Oprah. Salk. Magic. There are some names that require no explanation. You know exactly who these superstars are. The level of talent and impact supersede the need for their complete name — these folks have moved from mere mortals to one-name legends. But there are plenty of other stars in our midst. Read more…

Do Your Company’s Core Values Mirror Your Own Values?

Aha! product management software remote company

What are your core values? I am not referring to the aspirational traits that you want to strive towards. Or the bare minimum morals you require of yourself and others. I mean the beliefs that are deeply personal to you. They are part of your DNA. These core values are the fundamentals that guide your actions and choices every day — especially when no one is looking.

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Can You Be Perfect Every Day?

perfect moment Aha! product management team

There are moments in all of our lives when we experience a deep sense of satisfaction. When we have worked incredibly hard and realized our true best. Instant flashes of mental and emotional euphoria. Masterpieces that no one else needs to appreciate. But you know that what you just accomplished means everything. And guess what? These moments can happen at work too.

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What This CEO Learned After Writing More Than 100 Blogs in 2017

2017 Brian de Haaff blog

I have a hard time slowing down. A voice in my head always says, “Why wait? Keep going.” So, I almost never stop. I quickly move forward from finishing one project to starting the next. Always focused on the next big goal, the next big step for our company. It has worked for us so far. Aha! is one of the fastest growing software companies in the U.S. — and yet…

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The One Thing Successful Founders Do to Create Winning Teams

startup founder peer network

Were you an awkward teenager? Not yet an adult but not a kid anymore. I know there were times when I was not quite sure where I fit in and what my role was. This is the beauty of growing up — you have time to try and figure it out (only to realize that the answer is never clear).

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