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Posts from the ‘Startups’ Category


The Art of Choosing

ImageI recently attended a talk on choice given by Professor Sheena Iyengar, the inaugural S.T. Lee Professor of Business in the Management Division at Columbia Business School and the Director of the Global Leadership Matrix initiative. Choice is a very powerful tool in our lives as it helps us get from here to the future, but sometimes it is too much.  In order to get the most from choice, we must be choosy about choosing.  “In reality, many choices are between things that are not that much different.  The value of choice depends on our ability to perceive differences between the options” according to Prof. Iyengar.

The challenge is that we are presented with an explosion of choices. Prof. Iyengar’s Columbia Business School team ran a test at a retail store. Two jams displays were set up next to each other, one with 24 varieties of jams and the other with only six. More people stopped at the table with 24 jams, but only 3% bought something, while despite getting less foot traffic, 30% of the people who stopped at the table with six jams bought something. So while people were more attracted to greater choice, they preferred buying when they were presented fewer options. Are our eyes are too big for our minds? How many choices can we really handle? Prof Iyengar numerous studies has led her to assert that the magical number is in fact seven (+ or – 2).  So beyond seven choices, one gets confused. So choice is essentially about comparing bundles of info– if we are faced with too many, we procrastinate, we make inconsistent choices, and we ultimately become less satisfied.

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China’s Venture Capitalist Landscape

I have met several VC firms in China throughout my travels, and I have found James Mi of james linkedinLightspeed China, one of the most talented, reliable, and insightful investors. James took the time to sit down with me to answer a few questions on China’s VC landscape.

James is co-founder and Managing Director of Lightspeed China Partners, a leading China-focused early-stage venture capital firm with investments in internet, mobile, services, and information technology. Previously, James was Managing Director with Lightspeed China PartnersLightspeed Venture Partners (LSVP) and started the firm’s Beijing office in 2008. Headquartered in the Silicon Valley, LSVP manages more than $2B in assets and has globally-spread offices. In 2012, James was named by The Founder Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Most Respected VC in China.”

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OGSM Planning Framework

Planning meetingsMany early stage start-ups choose not to develop and maintain a strategic plan. They typically have a business plan, which was required for their funding process, but they don’t have a plan that links the longer term vision to their annual and quarterly plans. Now many of these start-ups’ founders have had prior negative experiences relative to planning, but they don’t need to undertake a time-consuming, expensive and cumbersome process to get to such a plan.

I moderated a couple of strategic planning sessions recently and the OGSM framework continues to be my favorite framework for start-ups. OGSM is a top-down strategic framework that defines and links the long-term vision to the medium to short-term strategies and metrics. It is a planning process that is initiated by the leadership, but it is shaped by all of the employees. Since it needs to fit on one page, it makes it a much more palatable planning framework for start-ups.

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Management Principles – Tom Heiser, RSA President

Tom HeiserWithin seconds of meeting Tom Heiser, you immediately sense his high level of intensity, focus, competitiveness and energy that has driven him to a successful career in the IT industry. Tom joined EMC in 1984 as a sales trainee and rose to increasingly senior sales and executive roles. He has played a key role in EMC’s evolution into a broad-based information infrastructure leader, including being directly involved in the formation of EMC’s Cloud Infrastructure and Services Division. He also served as EMC’s SVP, Corporate Development and New Ventures.  He is now President of RSA, EMC’s Security Division, with ~$1B in revenues, 3,000 employees worldwide and more than 30,000 customers.

Tom is absolutely one of the best in the business and he’s offered to share his management principles.

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Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck

Photo courtesy:

Photo courtesy:

Larry Gennari, of Gennari and Aronson, is holding another thought-provoking event for entrepreneurs and startups this week. Join author Tony Tjan as he speaks about his book “Heart, Smarts, Guts, and Luck,” the New York Times Best-Seller and #1 Non-Fiction with Publisher’s Weekly.

Anthony K. Tjan (Tony) is Managing Partner of Cue Ball, a Boston-based venture capital firm. Most recently, Tony was Senior Partner at The Parthenon Group, a leading strategic advisory firm where he continues as Vice Chairman. Tony holds his AB and MBA degrees from Harvard University. He was also a Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Tony sits on several boards, is a contributor to Harvard Business Review, and is on the Editorial Advisory Board of MIT Tech Review.

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