Running a company is hard. But trying to grow one can be an exhausting, absolutely overwhelming experience.
Why is that?
I’ll offer a simple explanation. A growing company is actually two companies.
Company #1 is what you’ve got. It’s the people, processes, and technology that run your business today. Even without big growth plans, companies at this stage are like ducks on a pond: calm on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath. To quote the U2 classic, this is the point where you’re “Running to Stand Still.” Attention, upkeep, guidance, coaching, and maintenance are all required to keep pace…
It’s fun to pull out old writing and reflect.
On the words, sure. But also on where I was and what I was wrestling with.
I wrote this essay half a year ago. Reading it again today, I realized: a lot’s changed. My mood, outlook, job, priorities, and environment — they’re all different. No matter which past piece of work I pick, comparing my “now” and “then” always reveals something useful. Something I can learn from.
In my essay, written during the teeth of election season and near the peak of COVID, I quoted Otto Von Bismarck, who said:
My firm invests in small technology companies, so we spend a lot of time thinking about growth.
When considering a new investment, we work hard to develop a perspective on how we can help the team improve their growth prospects. We get close with our Sales and Marketing leaders early. Understanding what’s working for them (and, maybe more importantly, what they haven’t gotten around to yet) is the most important part of building out our initial value-creation plan. We use that plan to measure success in the first year of our investment. It’s our north star.
But executing is never…
A simple framework to help you sanity-check your marketing — and the most important type of message you’re probably ignoring today
Aaron Ross’s book Predictable Revenue was my #1 seed in ParkerGale’s 2021 March Madness book bracket. But his newer book, Impossible to Inevitable (co-authored with SaaStr co-founder Jason Lemkin), might be even better.
My favorite part (excerpted in this blog post) focuses on how Zuora divides up their marketing messages into three distinct categories.
I’ve shared the article with several of our marketers and sales leaders in the last year. It always resonates.
From the excerpt:
We’ve hired multiple heads of Human Resources in the last couple of years. Here’s what you should expect from your existing HR leader — and what you should be looking for if you’re hiring one for the first time.
When ParkerGale buys a founder-owned technology business, we start by digging deep into how the company works. The sales process. Marketing. Budgeting. The Product roadmap. Across all of these disciplines, the most important question we ask is: What’s missing?
The answer is often the same, no matter where you look. “Consistency.”
Consistent businesses, the ones that do things the right way…
My friends at CultureIQ invited me to speak on one of their webinars a few weeks ago, and the opportunity prompted me to dig into my personal database for a few nuggets on culture and organizational change. We covered a lot during our hour together, but my favorite part came when we hit on a choice quote from the great management thinker, Dolly Parton. (Yes, that Dolly Parton.)
Dolly’s advice is short but powerful:
“Find out who you are and then do it on purpose.”
First of all, if you’re looking for a one-line recipe for an authentic life, that’s…
Seems like everyone is posting some form of humble-braggy year in review these days. (OK, I did one too. You can check it out at paulstansik.com if you’re so inclined.) I’m sharing a shorter 2020 list here: The stuff I used and watched that I really, really liked.
Hope you enjoy.
Roam Research — A big thanks to Hilmon Sorey at ClozeLoop for this one. For the past two years, I’ve used the notecard system to categorize important quotes, lessons, stories, and frameworks from everything I read and do at work. But notecards aren’t perfect: They aren’t searchable, and it’s…
I finally finished No More Champagne: Churchill and his Money, a meticulously-researched history of Winston Churchill’s financial life.
The guy was kind of a mess when it came to his money. Churchill was meaningfully in debt for much of his career, right up to and including some of his time as Prime Minister. His financial saving grace was a combination of an other-worldly level of creative output (enabled by a strong supporting team of researchers and ghostwriters) and some arguably dubious but impressive creativity in avoiding the UK’s insanely high wartime taxes. …
This is a follow-up to a longer-form piece I published last month called “Why You Need a Personal Scouting Report.” (Click here for a link to the article)
I spend a lot of my time working with our portfolio executives to create organizational clarity using questions like “Why do we exist?”, “What do we do?”, and “What is most important, right now?” The ensuing dialogue helps us bring focus, alignment, and certainty to the unavoidable chaos that comes with growing any small company. But we don’t stop there. …
I help small technology companies build stronger teams and make the most of their growth opportunities.