Thursday, August 4, 2022

Five Quotes from a Recent Sequoia Founder’s Meeting



“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

Charles Darwin



“Change is inevitable.

Growth is optional.”

John C. Maxwell


Wishful Thinking

“Wishful thinking is a waste of time.

Don’t sit around talking about ‘the good ole days’ with hope they’ll return.”


Age of Instability

“This is the age of instability where managing change is everyone’s job.

Think of it as your personal assignment.”



“You cannot overtake 15 cars in sunny weather ... but you can when it’s raining.”

Ayrton Senna


And one from China:


When the winds of change blow,

some people build walls,

and others build windmills.


Build your Windmill!



Monday, August 1, 2022

Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance


Following on from last week’s checklist for surviving in these challenging times:


1)   Prepare Yourself:

  • Walk towards the pressure.
  • Look at the world as it is, not as it used to be, not as you’d like it to be.
  • Remember your ABC’s (Ambition, Belief, Courage).  You’ve got this.  You will win.  Lead with Courage.
  • Stay true to your Personal Purpose.


2)   Prepare Your Team:

  • Recommit to the Company’s Purpose, stay focused on the Focus.
  • Connect.  Collaborate.  Communicate.  Commit.
  • Remember, none of us is as good as all of us.
  • Practice the Three HUMs (Humanity, Humility, Humour).
  • Cheerlead, spread calm, share the spotlight and zap energy.
  • Focus on Alignment, rather than Agreement.


3)   Prepare The Company:

  • Simplicity wins in a downturn, complexity loses.
  • Speed to Action is a huge differentiator.
  • Eliminate.  Eliminate.  Eliminate.
  • Be choiceful – if it doesn’t reduce risk, save money or drive revenue, don’t do it.
  • See Surviving the Downturn (July 22nd).


Take the Shot!



Thursday, July 28, 2022

Don’t Ask Me How I Know


A few years ago, Trudy and I were in Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth when this unknown singer came on stage and tore the house down.


He made a great album – Man Like Me – with a song on it I haven’t listened to for a while.


It’s playing now – and I’m sitting in Tonto’s with my rapidly maturing, beloved granddaughter Kendall and thinking – Wow, if she were a boy, not a beautiful girl, this song would save me giving a lot of ‘Popi’ advice.


Don't ride your bike off a ramp that's more than three bricks high
Don't take that candy from the store if you ain't got the dime
Don't pick a fight with a little guy that doesn't talk that much
Don't pick up a cherrybomb thinkin' it's a dud
And don't sneak out of a 2 story house usin' bed sheets for a rope
Don't ask me how I know

Sell your truck while it's still runnin', save the Jesus off the dash
Say a prayer when you feel like cussin', save your money pay with cash
Forget your pride, buy the roses, if you're sorry tell her so
Don't drink the water in Mexico
Don't ask me how I know


Don't quit your high school football team halfway through the season
Don't bust your buddy in the nose when you know he didn't mean it
Don't lose a girl you love at home for a night in Panama City
Don't rush off the phone when your Mama calls you ain't that busy
Ya oughta make that drive to say goodbye to your grampa ‘fore he goes
Don't ask me how I know

Forget your pride buy the roses, if you love her tell her so
Don't go to Vegas with your heart broke
Don't bum your cousin for that first smoke
I'm tellin' ya, don't drink the water in Mexico
Don't ask me how I know
Don't ask me how I know
I just know
Sell your truck while it's still runnin', say a prayer when you feel like cussin'
I know


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

The Six P’s


Old Grammar School friend, newly minted OBE, former President of The First Tier Tribunal, His Honour Judge Phillip Sycamore once told me about the Six P’s.


Proper Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance (although he may have used a more accessible Northern vernacular adjective for the fourth P).  This advice has served me well for many years.


I was reminded of it when I read a presentation from Sequoia to their community of Founders where they discussed how to win in the ‘Crucible Moment’ companies are facing today – a world of inflation, recession, supply chain crisis, talent shortages, consumer uncertainty/fear, political incompetence, a mental wellbeing crisis and social tensions.


Sequoia believes the winners will be those who are Properly Prepared for the fight – and I agree.  To survive and thrive in this environment, you’ve got to have some luck too (remember “Luck is what happens when Preparation meets Opportunity”).


A simple checklist for Proper Preparation:

1)   Prepare Yourself,

2)   Prepare Your Team,

3)   Prepare Your Company.


More to come on this next week.



Thursday, July 21, 2022

Surviving the Downturn

I’ve lived through a bunch of big crashes / recessions / corrections; the dot-com crash, 9/11, the Global Financial Crisis and Covid-19.  And we’re on the verge of another – a still to be branded Post Pandemic Downturn.  The onset of rampant double-digit inflation, weakening consumer confidence, escalating supply chain difficulties, increasingly tense social differences and talent shortages will contribute to at least three challenging years for most businesses.  Many will not make it; those that will survive will be better prepared to revive and thrive if they are considering rapid action along the following lines:

1)    Reforecast now.

Forget about the budget, forget about YAGO, forget about pre-Covid.  Look at the world as it is today, not as it used to be and not what you want it to be.

Be demanding and brutally honest.  Be pessimistic.  In a Recession it always takes longer, moves more slowly – and gets worse, before it gets better.  Forecast accordingly.  Consider the downsides, and then consider the worst that could happen.  And debate these options vigorously and realistically.


2)    Reforecast every month until the skies lighten.

Get a quick ‘n dirty 30 day reforecasting process that adapts quickly to key factors (wage bill, raw material / operating costs, pricing) and can be flexed quickly and transparently – so actions can be agreed immediately.


3)    Reduce your asset base and debt.

Renegotiate your funding/banking commitments, reduce interest charges, reduce reliance on lenders, bite the bullet and sell some assets to reduce interest/debt.


4)    Invest in the Key What Counts customer factors.

Customers will be driving for price and value.  Give them love, service and value via a great experience, rather than just price.  Understand how they’re feeling, show how you can help them survive, listen to them, reward increased loyalty, and don’t take any service item away permanently.


5)    Leverage technology to increase customer engagement.

Now is the time to enhance existing loyalty tools, to improve digital connectivity with your customers and build intimacy via tech.


6)    Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate.

Blue Ocean reduction is good, but not good enough.  True sustainable impact is gained by elimination.  Closing down, stopping doing stuff – and the stop doesn’t have to be always permanent.  Stop it for 60 days.  Go dark.  Then start again if you have to – but stop it now.  See if anyone misses it, see if anyone remembers.  Stop something now!


7)    It’s in Your Hands.

When Man City were 1 point ahead of Liverpool in the Premier League with the same number of games left, Pep Guardiola was asked about the pressure his team were facing.  He said “It’s in our hands” and walked towards the pressure.  Figure out what’s in your hands this year, and walk towards that pressure, that decision – and do something.

Act Now.



Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Hail Hail Tarantino


I just gorged on Kill Bill Vols 1 and 2 for maybe the fifth time – so cool.  Amazing sound-track (Nancy Sinatra, Bang Bang), terrific references to Kung Fu movies and what fight scenes.


Have downloaded Tarantino’s other eight movies for the next few trans-Atlantic flights.  I’ve seen them all except for the least popular / least recognised Death Proof which I’ll go with next.  Then Jackie Brown and three favourites – Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Inglourious Basterds.  All flawed, all bordering on genius.


And will his long-promised 10th – and final movie – come out soon?  And will it be the Django/Zorro cross-over he’s teased us with?  Or will he only produce it and not direct it?  Who knows?


In the meantime, I’m getting back into a Tarantino state of mind.