Company Building

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

Hey Customer: Stop Treating Me Like a Jerk

angry customer

Angry customers. I have encountered a few. And I bet you have too — even if it was just in passing. Have you ever overheard a customer ranting at their waiter about a meal? Walked into a store while a rage-filled return was in progress? The reason for this anger is usually not whatever the customer is yelling about. The core issue typically stems from something that happened earlier in the day and not feeling valued. The frustration is simply redirected. Unfortunately. 

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Hey Boss: You Are Setting Me Up for Failure

new hire onboarding

A terrible first day at a new job. You show up only to find your wonderful new boss is not ready for you. Nobody greets you. I would like to say I am making this up — but it happened to me. I once sat in the lobby for over an hour waiting to get going at a new job after graduate school.

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How to Be Transparent at Work (Without Making People Cry)

open office layout

Extreme openness. This was the original intention of the open-office design. Breaking down walls would also break down barriers — everyone could exchange ideas throughout the day. The organization would realize a hyper-state of transparency where the best ideas would always win. But I bet you have experienced a different reality with this floor plan.

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Your Company Is Not a Democracy

a company is not a democracy

We are living in unsettling times. In 2016, you may have found yourself saying “What?!” out loud a lot. And I am betting that this year your knee-jerk response has become, “Now what?” But uncertainty in the world is nothing new. And it definitely is no stranger to business.

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It Is Time to Eliminate Sales Commissions

sales commissions

Crazy quotas. Anything to close a deal. Pushing customers no matter the cost. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know how I feel about the traditional approach to sales. Customers have changed, yet the selling process has not. But here is a surprise — I am about to come to the defense of salespeople everywhere.

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5 Steps to Set Your 2018 Business Goals

goal setting teddy bear

Getting lost used to be much easier. One wrong turn and you could lose your way. You might pull over to unfold a faded paper map. Maybe even ask a stranger at a gas station for directions. Now smartphones and GPS have changed the way we navigate. But even the best technology cannot tell you where you want to go.

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Startups Are No Place for Most New Grads

hire recent graduate at a startup

“Do you think recent grads should work at really early stage startups?” I recently posted this question on LinkedIn. And it ignited a conversation. More than 325,000 people viewed and added hundreds of thoughtful responses. 

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The 10 Main Components of a Business Model

business model book

I learned how to write business models in graduate school. Although, it really felt more like writing long and complicated novels. I once spent three months working on one for a hypothetical home services referral website. I even conjured up crowd-sourced reviews for my would-be business. The process revealed a depressing plot twist.

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Hey Boss: I Am Begging You to Let Me Work From Home

work from home dog

I studied philosophy. (True.) You know the old cliché about the tree falling in the forest. If no one is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Well, remote work may seem that way for some. After all, how can you be sure people are actually working if you are not there to witness it?

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Stop Your Next Presentation to Honor the Now

Aha! product roadmap software team presentation

I am always thinking about what’s next at work. (Even on vacation sometimes, like now.) But at our recent, all-team meeting I made a conscious decision to stop. And I did something I have never done before — I interrupted my presentation and asked everyone to stop too. I wanted us all to take a moment to be in the “now.”

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I Promise You Will Love This Company Offsite

aha! remote product management team

Do the words “offsite quarterly business review” or “annual sales kickoff” make you want to run far, far away? You are not the only one. Sitting through endless presentations in stale conference rooms  — ugh. But these kinds of large group meetings are especially important for remote teams.

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How Not to Scale Your Startup

scale your startup cattle

It started with two people in a garage. The quintessential beginning we hear about many startups. And for good reason — you do not start out with 100 people. Companies begin with a founder or two. Some never leave the garage. The ones that grow solve a real problem and learn how to do it at scale. They do not learn how to scale and then figure out a problem to solve.

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There Is a New Animal in Silicon Valley

silicon valley unicorn startup

There is a new animal in Silicon Valley. And it is nothing like the unicorns you have read about in the past. This new beast is not quite as flashy. It moves a little slower than its spiral-horned counterpart — the one who galloped to ridiculous valuations at breakneck speed. And you probably will not see this new creature in the news. Why?

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How This CEO Learned to Let Go

Aha! product roadmap management

“We no longer want to work with you.” I once had to say this to a well-known multinational technology company. Our team at Aha! had met with them eight times and they were still asking for an additional (free!) six-month product evaluation. The value exchange simply was not there. So, it was time to kindly say goodbye.

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What a 7 Year Old Taught Me About Team Spirit

work at Aha! product management software

“Dear Future Me, I hope I work at Aha! And live at the beach. Love, Carson” An Aha! teammate recently shared this note with the company. It was from his 7-year-old son’s school journal. And I was blown away. Aha! is the type of company our kids aspire to work for? Mouth-wide-open speechless.

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