Humanity’s Greatest Innovation

Yesterday a tweet from Venture Hacks caught my eye:

Man's greatest innovations are the peaceful periods of history that make all other innovations possible.

It stood out because I think it's profoundly wrong and I rarely disagree with anything either Nivi or Naval say, but the sentiment here seems outrageous to me. It's akin to congratulating a wife beating alcoholic on managing to occasional not break her arm.

It's akin to giving some sort of prize to US presidents for having not yet started any wars. (Ummm...oh wait...I guess we do that already.)

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13 Tactics and Tips for Running Meetings

I recently ran across an old guide to running meetings that I wrote for a larger company and realized that despite being created for a very specific audience (I think you'll be able to guess the audience by reading it), it had some generally applicable information. Here is is with only minor edits:

1) Have a target

Start the meeting with clear goals stated so everyone knows what the meeting should accomplish. At the end of the meeting, summarize the goals and see if you accomplished them. Be aware that you may not accomplish all goals. Stick to one subject area. If you targets involve 2 people for one subject and a different two people for another, than have two meetings or you will be wasting at least 50% of your time.

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Three Lean Startup Principles to Live By

For the last few weeks I've been organizing a lean startup bootcamp for the TechBA program called "Build or Die!" It's been pretty much occupying all my time (that and StartupWeekend San Jose) and that's the reason I haven't been blogging.

It's been a great opportunity to pull together many of my favorite thinkers and hear points where they differ, but it's also been enlightening to hear where they agree. Here are three things that everyone said at one point or another including Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper, Tim McCoy, Stefan Klocek, Victor Reyes, Wee Yen, and Hiten Shah.

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Starting a StartupWeekend in 9 Days of Chaos

(IMPORTANT: Before you read this post, please click this and help spread the word about StartupWeekend San Jose April 15th-17th.)

For the past 7 days I've been working round the clock to organize and promote a StartupWeekend in San Jose. It start in two days. A ridiculous and ill advised timeline.

To be honest, I didn't think we were going to do it. I started getting in touch with the good folks at StartupWeekend late in the game with only a month and change to go and only managed to get someone on the phone with two weeks to go.

The suggested timeline for organizing a StartupWeekend is 3 months...but like they say...

If You're Going to Do Something, Go All the Way...

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I am not an Expert at Jumping the Lean Shark with a Pivot

In the past few weeks I've become increasingly concerned that lean startup is swiftly heading towards a point of self-referential self-promotion that is perhaps unavoidable, but is certainly undesirable.

While there has been no swarm of locusts as of yet and the current authors, consultants, and experts that I'm familiar with are in fact unbelievably talented individuals, there are some signs that alarm me.

I'll start with the worst offender ... me.

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How do you validate your startup idea with customers?

My favorite question to ask is usually the simplest one to verify. Ask a simple pain point question such as, "Do your feet hurt?"

If the customer doesn't start complaining for the next fifteen minutes, they don't have a pain point. The length of time a person will complain uninterrupted is a pretty good proxy for the amount of pain they're feeling.

Aside from that, I don't think there are any great one size fits all questions, but I would also tend to:

Ask how they solve the problem now Ask how much they'd pay you to manually solve the problem (concierge style) Ask if they can recommend someone else who has the problem

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