Drillin.gs – The Post
Today I’m launching my new blog, Drillin.gs, as a place to share the experiences, learnings and analyses of my time in the start-up world, as a growth-stage VC, as an investment banker, and just in life. I started my previous blog, VC2BD in early 2011, as someone fresh to an operating role, looking to share comparisons and observations as I moved from what had been a career spent exclusively in finance. Over the past two years (since moving from VC to a start-up in June 2010), I have held multiple roles (BD & Product Management), experienced numerous challenges and opportunities, and grown tremendously both as a professional, and in general. Observations I’ve made along the way, and analyses I’ve performed on those observations, have now turned into crystalized learnings. Drillin.gs is an effort to write about and share those learnings, in order to provoke additional thought by myself and others.
While I may jump around from time-to-time, you’ll likely find some common threads in the content. In writing each post, my goal is to capture the essence of my learning with hard examples, my own analysis, and any additional works that have inspired me. In general, my plan is to keep this blog as much journal of my experiences, and how I expect they will change me going forward. As you might have noticed, the tagline to my blog is “Learning & Burning,” and while that might be a bit unclear at first, I think it fits quite well with that goal.
The focus of my old blog was to give an “other side of the table” point-of-view (which led nicely into VC2BD), while this blog is much more about the overall learnings I’ve had, and whats driving me going forward. Thus I needed a new name and tagline more reflective of that revised perspective. My last name (how most people refer to me) was an obvious fit for the URL and main title, and I felt that a variation on “Learn & Burn” fit the bill nicely for a tagline. I’ll discuss the individual components of the name below, but first I’ll address the obvious derivation from the term “churn and burn” – a term that conjures up strong feelings for me. At least in the way that I’ve heard it used, and seen it put into place, “churn and burn” is all about value extraction. I have an entire post conjured up on my feelings towards value extraction versus value generation, but needless to say, I’m very against value extraction as a method of generating revenue, managing employees and building a business (particularly within the start-up phase). I fundamentally believe that you can generate a concern of far more overall value with value generation versus value extraction (e.g. gaining value from employees through development & success vs. working them to the bone; ensuring clients generate value in excess of your price vs. collecting all excess value generated). The Learn & Burn tagline is an attempt to put a positive spin on what has been a very negative philosophy I’ve encountered.
The “Learn” component of the tagline is derived from two elements – both the learning I’ve done, and will continue to do, as an individual, and the learning that is a continual part of building a business. With regard to the former, as I’ve gone on in an operating role, and continued reading, discussing and researching, I’ve learned a tremendous amount. Often in this learning, I’ve taken lessons from my engineering education and my finance / venture capital background, and built-upon them. I’ve learned much about working with colleagues with broad backgrounds & diverse skill sets, leadership, the importance of focus, business evolution, and problem solving. I’ve also learned much about myself, and plan to share many of these lessons through this blog.
On the other side of the “learn” equation (and this might sound a bit funny), one of the biggest learnings I’ve had personally, is the power of continued learning in the development of products, markets and businesses. Its a popular topic around the lean-startup movement, but its also broadly applicable. In my experience, I’ve been truly amazed by the power of simply getting a product, or even just an idea, in front of people – whether it be through user testing, A/B testing, or by early release. Testing, and subsequent learning, yields so much benefit; even those with the best intuition can’t predict exactly how a target will interact with a feature, tool or message. As part of this blog, I plan to share my experiences in this area, and write several posts on the power of learning in product development, marketing, HR, and other areas I’ve touched.
“Burning,” as it relates to start-ups has been popularized by Brad Feld (@BFELD), whose “The Burning Entrepreneur” book / blog collection is fantastic, Fake Grimlock (@FAKEGRIMLOCK), who has a great guest post in that book and is a general innovation rock-star, and others within the entrepreneurial community to represent the “fire” of a visionary entrepreneur. Driven by passion, and fueled by learnings, someone (an entrepreneur or really any individual) who is on “fire,” drives progress and development in business, across organizations and in society in general. Their vision is infectious and spreads to others, and in that same vein I’d like to spread my own passion – my life, my business pursuits, and the leanings I’ve done in both – to others, in order to fuel their own endeavors.
As I progress forward, in whatever path I pursue, I plan to keep this blog fresh with material as I continue to learn and grow as an individual and as a professional. Drillings, the blog, is a journal for myself, as much as a tool for others. I hope you all contribute by commenting and reaching out.