Stuff I’ve been reading recently – #4

High Growth Handbook
by Elad Gil

Well-known technology executive and angel investor Elad Gil has worked with high growth tech companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Instacart, Coinbase, Stripe, and Square as they’ve grown from small companies into global brands. Across all of these break-out companies, a set of common patterns has evolved into a repeatable playbook that Gil has codified in High Growth Handbook.

Covering key topics including the role of the CEO, managing your board, recruiting and managing an executive team, M&A, IPOs and late-stage funding rounds, and interspersed with over a dozen interviews with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley including Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz), and Aaron Levie (Box), High Growth Handbook presents crystal clear guidance for navigating the most complex challenges that confront leaders and operators in high-growth startups.

In what Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestsellers The Alliance and The Startup of You calls “a trenchant guide,” High Growth Handbook is the playbook for turning a startup into a unicorn.

Subscribed: Why the Subscription Model Will Be Your Company’s Future – and What to Do About It
by Tien Tzuo & Gabe Weisert

Subscription companies are growing nine times faster than the S&P 500. Why? Because unlike product companies, subscription companies know their customers. A happy subscriber base is the ultimate economic moat.

Today’s consumers prefer the advantages of access over the hassles of maintenance, from transportation (Uber, Surf Air), to clothing (Stitch Fix, Eleven James), to razor blades and makeup (Dollar Shave Club, Birchbox). Companies are similarly demanding easier, long-term solutions, trading their server rooms for cloud storage solutions like Box. Simply put, the world is shifting from products to services.

But how do you turn customers into subscribers? As the CEO of the world’s largest subscription management platform, Tien Tzuo has helped hundreds of companies transition from relying on individual sales to building customer-centric, recurring-revenue businesses. His core message in Subscribed is simple: Ready or not, excited or terrified, you need to adapt to the Subscription Economy — or risk being left behind.

Make Time: How to Focus on What Matters Every Day
by Jake Knapp & John Zeratsky

From the New York Times bestselling authors of Sprint, a simple 4-step system for improving focus, finding greater joy in your work, and getting more out of every day.

Nobody ever looked at an empty calendar and said, “The best way to spend this time is by cramming it full of meetings!” or got to work in the morning and thought, Today I’ll spend hours on Facebook! Yet that’s exactly what we do. Why?

In a world where information refreshes endlessly and the workday feels like a race to react to other people’s priorities faster, frazzled and distracted has become our default position. But what if the exhaustion of constant busyness wasn’t mandatory? What if you could step off the hamster wheel and start taking control of your time and attention? That’s what this book is about.

As creators of Google Ventures’ renowned “design sprint,” Jake and John have helped hundreds of teams solve important problems by changing how they work. Building on the success of these sprints and their experience designing ubiquitous tech products from Gmail to YouTube, they spent years experimenting with their own habits and routines, looking for ways to help people optimize their energy, focus, and time. Now they’ve packaged the most effective tactics into a four-step daily framework that anyone can use to systematically design their days. Make Time is not a one-size-fits-all formula. Instead, it offers a customizable menu of bite-size tips and strategies that can be tailored to individual habits and lifestyles.

Make Time isn’t about productivity or checking off more to-dos. Nor does it propose unrealistic solutions like throwing out your smartphone or swearing off social media. Making time isn’t about radically overhauling your lifestyle; it’s about making small shifts in your environment to liberate yourself from constant busyness and distraction.

A must-read for anyone who has ever thought, If only there were more hours in the day…, Make Time will help you stop passively reacting to the demands of the modern world and start intentionally making time for the things that matter.

Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs
by John Doerr

Legendary venture capitalist John Doerr reveals how the goal-setting system of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) has helped tech giants from Intel to Google achieve explosive growth—and how it can help any organization thrive.

In the fall of 1999, John Doerr met with the founders of a start-up whom he’d just given $12.5 million, the biggest investment of his career. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had amazing technology, entrepreneurial energy, and sky-high ambitions, but no real business plan. For Google to change the world (or even to survive), Page and Brin had to learn how to make tough choices on priorities while keeping their team on track. They’d have to know when to pull the plug on losing propositions, to fail fast. And they needed timely, relevant data to track their progress—to measure what mattered.

Doerr taught them about a proven approach to operating excellence: Objectives and Key Results. He had first discovered OKRs in the 1970s as an engineer at Intel, where the legendary Andy Grove (“the greatest manager of his or any era”) drove the best-run company Doerr had ever seen. Later, as a venture capitalist, Doerr shared Grove’s brainchild with more than fifty companies. Wherever the process was faithfully practised, it worked.

In this goal-setting system, objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top-priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. Everyone’s goals, from entry-level to CEO, are transparent to the entire organization.

The benefits are profound. OKRs surface an organization’s most important work. They focus effort and foster coordination. They keep employees on track. They link objectives across silos to unify and strengthen the entire company. Along the way, OKRs enhance workplace satisfaction and boost retention.

In Measure What Matters, Doerr shares a broad range of first-person, behind-the-scenes case studies, with narrators including Bono and Bill Gates, to demonstrate the focus, agility, and explosive growth that OKRs have spurred at so many great organizations. This book will help a new generation of leaders capture the same magic.

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