"How to Start a Startup" - Sam Altman/YC/Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs
- 20 taped lectures + background reading materials
"Reference Guide on our Freedom & Responsibility Culture" - Netflix
- 128 slides in a pdf
"Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future" - Peter Thiel
- 200pg book
Zero to One
No, this book, used as guide, is a trap. Read Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup, real stuff there, not entrepreneuriNo, this book, used as guide, is a trap. Read Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup, real stuff there, not entrepreneurial pseudo-philosophy.
My own personal pieces of advice:
Hiring is unbelievably important. No matter how good a candidate looks on paper, no matter how much you like them, no matter what their role is, always do a live technical test (I call it an “exercise” to lower their anxiety, and I do it somewhat collaboratively).
Give them a set of data (e.g. in a google spreadsheet), have them share their screen, explain the context of the data, explain what it is that you want, encourage them to ask questions, and see how it goes.
Do they try to understand the data? Do they understand the goal of the task? Do they go directly to their favorite tool (e.g. a pivot table) without understanding how it applies to this data set? Do they sanity check their results in a different way? Do they get flustered by not knowing the answer/being outside their element? Are they comfortable asking questions when they’re confused? Are they threatened by you making corrections/pointing out something they missed? Do they seem to understand and update based on your guidance?
Maybe they’ll bomb and you’ll decide to hire them anyway, but at least you’ll have a lot more information about where they’ll need support.
People love branded gear. Especially your team. Take the time and resources to make them feel included and to show a little pride in what they’ve helped to build. Investors also like cool stuff; bonus points for making them feel like a VIP or an extension of the team.
You’ll see this as a theme in my advice:
Make and gift stuff that sparks joy. If you’re going to create things, especially things that you want others to incorporate into their lives, be thoughtful about it.
If t-shirts, pay attention to fabric and fit—there are crunchy boxy t-shirts and there are tailored soft t-shirts.
Ask your team for their actual sizes when placing the order and consider getting a style for those who might prefer a women’s cut. A v-neck might be a compromise—it’s pretty unusual for women’s styles to have a high crew neck. I have no idea why there are always leftover huge shirts but never xs or smalls, but as long as you order for your audience instead of going with someone else’s default sizing, this shouldn’t happen.
I actually think sweatshirts make more sense than t-shirts in a lot of cases:
You can wear them multiple times without washing (great for having your team wear during conferences),
They can be used as an accessory to change your outfit from casual to more professional or formal or the other way, e.g. you can take it off when going to dinner after an event.
You can print something on the back and it won’t be hidden in the case that you want to put on another layer, etc.
Sizing and styling is more forgiving/doesn’t need to be as on-point.
And don’t forget that you can actually just buy clothing you already like and take it to get screen printed. For the first couple batches of branded gear, I literally just bought sweatshirts from Uniqlo and had them printed at a local shop in order to get them done in time.
If you’re branding other types stuff, ask yourself whether these are quality objects that you’d want people using and enjoying. Is it a really good pen that people will reach for again and again? Maybe a
And do the math: maybe it’s crazy to get nice backpacks for everyone at a conference, but maybe getting something kinda fancy for everyone on the team (maybe when they start or maybe all at once for an occasion) isn’t actually that expensive, especially when you consider how much the person themselves costs you daily. Staff is probably your largest expense, and if you’re doing things right, they’re also your best resource—I think it makes sense to invest in these small ways that will likely have a pretty high ROI.
(I always give my immediate family gear from my projects and it sparks so much joy to see my dad wear his vintage branded stuff from year 1 with such pride. 100% worth it to print extras and let people take stuff home.)
Two side notes:
- It’s pretty weird to me that people don’t get more creative with where they put their logo or words or whatever. Even printing on the back is still not mainstream. Why not put a logo to the side near the brim of your hat instead of right in the middle? What about by your hip on your t-shirt? At a diagonal? Do you really need words? What about explanatory visual graphics from your website? Just a symbol? Just something in your brand’s colors? People might be much more interested in wearing the thing or using the thing if your branding is subtle. Just make sure you have enough brand recognition for it to still work. Which brings me to point 2:
- It can be very powerful to show up at an event with your team all wearing the same general thing or variations on a theme. Even if there are just a handful of you, people start to get the impression that you’re everywhere. And if the thing you’re wearing is cool (which it should be, if you’ve followed my advice), people will even approach you wanting their own 🤷♀️