Don’t Read This Book; What Strategy Isn’t; Scorecard Sample; Crowdfunding for Dummies
February 19, 2013
Profiting from Employees; Only Way to Win; Committee of Sleep; Punctual Plumber
February 28, 2013

Best Brand Promise Guarantee; Must STUDY Article; Hot Potato Chain Emails; Best VC

"…keeping you great" 


We want to
make sure that everybody in this firm respects the entrepreneur and respects
the fact that they're going to be the ones who are making us the money, not
vice versa.



Andreessen Horowitz

Venture Firm Pays If Late for Meeting
— to reinforce their respect for entrepreneurs, VC firm
Andreessen Horowitz fines partners $10 for every minute they are late for a
meeting with entrepreneurs!! This is EXACTLY the kind of simple brand promise
guarantee and differentiating activity we've been emphasizing firms adopt as
part of their overall strategy. And it's what has made their firm the hottest
venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, having raised three funds worth $2.7

Must STUDY Article
— so the article for the week is
interview of Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz. Venture capitalists are
businesses too, and need a differentiating strategy. For them, their simple
one-phrase strategy is "founders make the best CEOs" which translates to a brand
promise that they will support, nurture, and educate an entrepreneur to become a
successful CEO rather than be quick to bring in a hired gun. Then everything
they do reinforces this belief, including their $10/minute fine — and thus
every entrepreneur is flocking to them. In an industry where quality deal flow
is everything, Andreessen Horowitz gets the first look. Take
8 minutes to STUDY this interview for more great ideas about strategy

(better than the P&G book!) plus a couple neat video interviews – and read how
the late fine impacts culture (end of interview).

"Hot Potato" Long Email Chains — speaking of wasting people's time being late to meetings
(or conference calls as highlighted a few weeks ago), nothing wastes more time
than long email chains with twenty people copied on the email when a quick
conference call would resolve the issues. And because I'm on vacation this week,
to save me some time, I'm reproducing BGT
VP of Operation, Tony Morello's, email to the 400 employees in
their rapidly growing interactive media agency on how he wants these handled –
what he calls "Hot Potato Them". Here it is, complete with his hot potato
graphics. WARNING: some graphic language as well!

Tony Morello – BGT Partners

Monday, February 04, 2013 10:29 PM


Hot Potato!

Long Email Chains Wasting Time? Hot Potato Them.

We're seeing a disturbing trend internally at BGT – emails are being used as a
substitute for actual conversation. When used incorrectly, emails can be a
tremendous time suck. And given the amount of work we have, time is clearly not
something we can afford to lose. If you've been the victim of time-wasting
bullsh*t emails, we're now giving you ammo to fight back. The next time you
receive an email that has been treated by the sender as a hot potato, don't
continue the chain. Don't ignore it. And don't delete it. Instead, "reply all"
with the following horrible, horrible graphic (we are not kidding):

When an email has been called out as a hot potato, the sender of the original
email is responsible for calling a 15 minute huddle within one hour to resolve
the problem. And that's the key – hot potato issues MUST be resolved in that
time frame. In the huddle, someone must stand up and say, "I own the potato" and
be accountable for the resolution. Then, other people must take responsibility
for taking action and supporting the person that owns the issue.

A hot potato email meets one or more of the following requirements:

  1. Has caused an
    email chain of at least 5 emails with no clear resolution and no clear

  2. Has been sent
    in place of doing due diligence and collecting background information on an
    issue (i.e., an email sent to several people and begins, "I'm not sure who to
    send this to, so I'm sending this to all of you…")

  3. Has been sent
    to a group to collect information that could be collected much faster in a

  4. Has asked you
    to do something that clearly has been thrown over the fence with no real
    thought. (AKA a CYA email)

Once the problem is resolved, the sender of the original email can "reply all"
with the following:

Don't get sucked into long email chains. Hot Potato them, talk, and resolve the
problem. You can copy the Hot Potato graphics right out of this email.
A special thanks to Elly Vila Dominicis for her prodigious potato artwork.

Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish
Verne Harnish is founder of the world-renowned Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and chaired for fifteen years EO’s premiere CEO program, the “Birthing of Giants” and WEO’s “Advanced Business” executive program both held at MIT. Founder and CEO of Gazelles, a global executive education and coaching company with over 150 coaching partners on six continents, Verne has spent the past three decades helping companies scale-up. The “Growth Guy” syndicated columnist, he’s also the Venture columnist for FORTUNE magazine. He’s the author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0); Mastering the Rockefeller Habits; and along with the editors of Fortune, authored The Greatest Business Decisions of All Times," for which Jim Collins wrote the foreword. Verne also chairs FORTUNE Magazine’s annual Leadership and Growth Summits and serves on several boards including chairman of The Riordan Clinic and the newly launched Geoversity. He is an investor in many scale-ups. A father of four, he enjoys piano, tennis, and magic as a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.