Category Archives: Leadership

What to do about Underperforming Cofounders

Recently, I saw a question on Quora from an entrepreneur who was all in on her idea but was becoming frustrated with her putative cofounder. Her question was what should she do about a cofounder who can’t dedicate enough time to the startup because he has a full time job? Here’s my response:

Instead of focusing on the negatives, figure out how your friend can add value to your startup. Once you’ve aligned his skills/commitment to what you’re trying to accomplish then work with him to create metrics that he has to meet in order to get more equity through vesting options (or compensation in another way, maybe as a paid consultant or salesman). If he fails to reach those metrics on time then have a pathway that eventually leads to his graceful exit from the startup. In that scenario, if handled correctly your buddy will come to the conclusion that he just isn’t committed to the startup and will leave without a bad taste in his mouth.

Summarily banishing someone from a startup when they are able and willing to add something to your venture is a mistake early on unless you truly believe they’re not going to add anything or, even worse, hold you back. If you really believe he’s going to have a detrimental effect on your business then get rid of him now. But, if you think he can add something (i.e. connections with potential customers/investors, a high degree of knowledge in your industry, etc.) then try to work with him to come up with an equitable way to split the equity.

On a related note and not knowing your entrepreneurial history, starting a business is a lonely endeavor, especially for those who haven’t done it before. (Which is why we always recommend building out a team to the entrepreneurs that we work with at the CSUF Startup Incubator.) If you have plans on growing your business into something more significant than you and maybe a small team can handle then I would definitely recommend that you start building out a team as soon as possible. If your buddy isn’t a good fit then start recruiting others to join you. Working with others is good on the mental side of the equation for an entrepreneur and the more people you have working with you on a startup the more upside there is because these people will bring things to the table that you working alone cannot.

Agree? Disagree? What would you add?


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Building a Strong Culture from Startup to Mature Company

Dave Kinnear giving a talk on the importance of building a culture from startup to mature company for CSUF Entrepreneurship

Dave Kinnear giving a talk on the importance of building a culture from startup to mature company for CSUF Entrepreneurship

Last week, CSUF Entrepreneurship mentor and veteran executive coach for Vistage Dave Kinnear gave a great talk on the importance of culture for any organization and how to effectively build a great culture that will grow as your business grows. According to Dave, in order to accomplish this you first need to know how culture is built and the way to do this is to understand how people develop their world view.

For Dave, it all starts with fundamental organizing principles (FOPs), which is how people interpret reality. These are foundational principles that help to determine how you view everything.

From FOPs come values. Values are more disbursed than FOPs and are how we view the world. If you think that every person has inalienable rights then that is one of your values.

Next up are beliefs/habits. Beliefs/habits are our way of systematizing how we interact with the world. Instead of using pure logic to determine how to do things beliefs/habits help us to act quickly.

Action is the penultimate link in this chain and action is the manifestation of the heuristical responses as determined by our beliefs/habits. Actions taken are not always based off of complete information but without the foundational elements from above we couldn’t act.

From actions come results, which are simply how things end up once you take action. Depending on your FOPs, the world may be an ordered system akin to a clock but the complexity of that system is immeasurably complex and your results may not always align with that viewpoint. When that happens you will understandably start to question things.

The thing about this system is that the closer you get to FOPs the less change you will be willing to make. But if your results do not align with what you expected then you will start questioning things and reassess some things. The further up the line towards FOPs you get, the harder it is to change but you will be adjusting your beliefs/habits throughout your life.

In order to build a strong company culture you need to honestly assess what your world view is and create processes in your company that align with that. If you do it right then your culture will permeate every facet of your business and will help your business grow into the kind of entity that you want. It takes work but it can be done.

At least that was my interpretation of Dave’s thesis. Dave was more eloquent in explaining this in his talk and I hope to get some clips up from his talk for our Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship series soon.

And if you would like to meet with Dave to discuss culture and how to start your business you can reserve some time at his office hours that he does for CSUF Entrepreneurship. Office hours with Dave are a good way to get started on building your innovative concept and once you are ready to get serious about launching your business you should seriously consider becoming a resident at the CSUF Startup Incubator where we help entrepreneurs go from concept to launch.

Reading posts like this and attending talks by experts like Dave are part of the formula for success but there is significantly more value with working with experts like Dave and the people at the CSUF Startup Incubator.

Here are some thought-provoking quotes that Dave highlighted during his talk that I had to include in this post:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is how Peter Drucker described culture and for Dave he sees culture as how organizations get things done.

“Values should underpin Vision, which dictates Mission, which determines Strategy, which surfaces Goals that frame Objectives, which in turn drives the Tactics that tell an organization what Resources, Infrastructure and Processes are needed to support a certainty of Execution” Mike Myatt.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Start with Why – How to make a Great Pitch

Sixty seconds is not a long time to tell someone about your concept but that is what we challenge students to do at the Titan Fast Pitch competition on October 21. Why?

The “why” is the answer. Entrepreneurs have a mission and being able to inspire people with the “why” of their mission makes the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a transformational one.

Simon Sinek gave a TED Talk a few years back called Start with Why. It’s a powerful talk that explains how great leaders, from Apple to Martin Luther King Jr., led movements that changed the world. And while we don’t expect competitors at the Titan Fast Pitch to change the world right away, being able to passionately explain to people why you are doing something will put you on that path.

There is more to giving a great pitch than simply explaining why you do what you do. You have to succinctly go from why to how you will do what you say you will do and what the result will be. An example of how to do this that Simon gives is apple. He explains Apple this way:

Everything we do we believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers.

In other words, in Simon’s words, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

And that’s what you have to do at the Titan Fast Pitch if you want to win. Make sure to register as a competitor or as an attendee to support the CSUF Entrepreneurship community.


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Uber’s Management by Committee: Good or Bad Idea?

Hailing an UberFrom Yahoo! Finance: “According to three sources familiar with the matter, Uber will be run by a committee consisting of 14 executives, all of whom directly reported to Kalanick before he announced on Tuesday he would be taking time away from the company following recent scandals and the death of his mother.

“Whether Uber’s new governing structure succeeds — and how long the team will govern for — are two questions that will follow the executive committee, particularly over the next few days and weeks. With over 12,000 employees, Uber is a large company faced with many layers of decision-making and the serious challenge of transforming Uber’s culture following a recent slew of scandals related to allegations of sexual harassment.”

Putting it mildly, this leadership situation is unique. But will it work? To find out, I asked a couple of the best experts on leadership that I know of for their opinions on this matter.

Dr. Atul Teckchandani, Assistant Professor of Management at CSUF, leads our CSUF Consulting teams that focus on leadership issues for our business clients.

Travis Kalanick never had a second in command at Uber. Recently the company announced they were going to look for a COO – but things have deteriorated significantly since then and finding a COO is no longer a top priority. My suspicion is that the governance-by-committee approach is more out of necessity than out of effectiveness. Having the top 14 executives at the company come together every time a decision needs to be made is extremely inefficient. But there’s no logical replacement for Kalanick and bringing in an outside hire would be even more disruptive. I suspect that the governance-by-committee approach is going to stay in place until things stabilize for the company.

Dave Kinnear, Executive Leader Coach for Vistage International, mentors our students in the classroom and has office hours at the CSUF Startup Incubator frequently.

Governance By Committee

There is an old saying that “A camel is a horse put together by committee.” I’m not at all sure this is fair to either camels or horses, however, the sentiment that too many conflicting opinions can ruin a project holds true.

For the Uber Executive Committee to effectively lead Uber and transform its culture, they will have to agree on who will make the final decision and empower that person to do so. From what I have been able to learn, Kalanick was that person who made the final call. They must also agree on how information will be brought to the committee, be processed by the committee and be communicated to the rest of the Uber organization.

I seriously doubt that the Board of Directors will be totally absent from the significant decisions that the team has to make. This particular board has shown that it knows how to step in and govern (see the above background information on how they handled the Covington report). I am confident that the Leadership Committee will have guidelines from the board on what committee recommendations must be run by the board prior to final decisions and actions.

Absent Leaders are Not That Unusual

One of the goals I like to establish with business leaders is that they build a high functioning leadership team that can operate without them. If we do not build such a team, then we earn the epithet of micromanager. Plus, we limit the scalability of the organization by being the bottleneck for decisions. My observation is that just like a wine bottle, the bottleneck is always at the top in organizations.

My concern for the Leadership Committee at Uber is that they may not have been allowed to be autonomous up until now, and so will not understand how to function without direction from the top. I hope I’m wrong about that concern. That is why I call this an interesting experiment for Uber.

Many of the leaders with whom I work have no concern or problem taking long vacations — mostly unplugged — and letting their teams run the show. They avoid making decisions from afar. Most have reported that things actually seemed to run better while they were gone! And their teams love the autonomy.

Growth Opportunity

A spokesperson for Uber declared that the leadership team was strong and that “The entire team is excited by the opportunities ahead of us.” This rings true to me. But it remains to be seen if this group can actually perform as a team. As a friend (an entrepreneur and athlete) puts it, “I’d rather play on a championship team than on a team of champions.”

If the Leadership Committee members at Uber truly believe that the team and company is more important than individual egos, then they have a good chance of coming together as a championship team and transforming Uber. I wish the Leadership Committee and Kalanick good luck and success.

What do you think?


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

Focus on your Character First – Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship

Jim Reichert has had thousands of business relationships throughout the years so it’s safe to say that he knows a thing or two about people. And he has some simple, straightforward advice for people who want to build stronger relationships, whether for business or otherwise.

To Jim, Dr. Stephen R Covey’s words on building character rather than working on creating a better personality really ring true. You can have the most engaging, gregarious personality in the world but that doesn’t really matter if you can’t follow through on what you say you will.

That’s why you have to focus on building your character. Even if you aren’t the life of the party if you do what you say you are going to do, be honest, trustworthy, and everything else that is the mark of someone with strong character, then you will be in a better position to accomplish the things you want to accomplish.

Why? Because people will come to rely on you. They know that  you are a trustworthy person. Someone with character that won’t just tell you what you want to hear.

This Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship clip was taken from a talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive:
http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session:
http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship video series:
http://bit.ly/csufknowledge

 

#1 Rule for Better Communication at Work – Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship

How do you create a great atmosphere at work? It’s all about communication. If you cannot have productive conversations with your coworkers, subordinates, or superiors then how are you going to get things done?

Jim Reichert is an entrepreneurial executive with decades of experience in this area and he believes that the best way to promote good communication at work is by starting off on the right track. When you are hiring someone you will of course need to make sure that they have the skills and the experience to do the job they are being hired for but you also need to ascertain whether or not they are a fit culturally. That means they have to have values that align with the company.

And what happens when someone just doesn’t end up fitting well with the company’s culture? This is a tough situation and can become very emotional but the correct course of action would be to let that person go. It’s not that they are a bad person, per se, it’s just that they aren’t a fit for the company. In the long run this decision is better for the person that is being let go and better for the organization as well.

This Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship clip was taken from a talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session: http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents

How to Build Your Startup Team – Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship

How to Build Your Startup Team - Knowledge @ CSUF EntrepreneurshipThe early days in any business are tough. The entrepreneur, the person with the idea, ends up doing most of the jobs. And this is important because it is during these formative times that processes are created and the startup’s culture starts to take root.

But after some time you need to start hiring people. After you have figured out how to do something, like QuickBooks, you will need to hire someone to start doing that for you. And then, more or less, you wash, rinse, and repeat that process until you have developed your team.

Oh, and you better like your lawyer because you will be working closely with this person from day one. Your lawyer will obviously help you with legal matters but they are also a tremendous source for business intelligence and they can make key introductions for you as well.

This Knowledge @ CSUF Entrepreneurship clip was taken from a talk at the CSUF Startup Incubator given by Jeff Greenberg. Jeff is currently the Managing Director of Tech Coast Works and a serial entrepreneur.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffreyrgreenberg/


#CSUF

For more details on CSUF Entrepreneurship: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/

For more details on how we help people become entrepreneurs: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Incubator

For more details on how CSUF Consulting can help businesses thrive: http://business.fullerton.edu/Center/Entrepreneurship/Consulting

Attend one of our events for entrepreneurs or sign up for a free mentoring session: http://bit.ly/CSUFEntrepreneurEvents