Managing Your VP Of Sales: If It’s Painful, It’s Going Well

Scott Weiss:

The most successful tech companies are typically led by their technical, product-oriented founder-CEOs who have very little experience in building a sales organization. Bringing on a sales leader and building a sales organization exercises a completely different muscle for most engineering-heavy startups.
 And if you’ve hired right, managing a vice president of sales is meant to be tough work. That’s because the very best sales leaders are extremely demanding. They call out competitive weaknesses, constantly push for more feature velocity, and promise bug fixes or features that get crammed into every release. They stretch everyone to their limit. It will drive you and others in the company bananas.
 But if your VP of sales is not periodically at odds with the VPs of product, engineering, operations, finance, etc., then he or she is probably not demanding enough. If done right, this role gives the entire company a reason to work harder as the sales VP reveals and strongly advocates for the customer struggle. That said, the CEO still needs to manage this person tightly. Because once the VP of sales unleashes her or his superpower — being a master negotiator/influencer — inside the company, it can create dysfunction across the team.

The East India Company: The original corporate raiders

William Dalrymple:

One of the very first Indian words to enter the English language was the Hindustani slang for plunder: “loot”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this word was rarely heard outside the plains of north India until the late 18th century, when it suddenly became a common term across Britain. To understand how and why it took root and flourished in so distant a landscape, one need only visit Powis Castle.
 The last hereditary Welsh prince, Owain Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn, built Powis castle as a craggy fort in the 13th century; the estate was his reward for abandoning Wales to the rule of the English monarchy. But its most spectacular treasures date from a much later period of English conquest and appropriation: Powis is simply awash with loot from India, room after room of imperial plunder, extracted by the East India Company in the 18th century.

Opportunity, Strategy, Execution, and Reward

Avram Miller:

This post is about how I evaluate early stage venture businesses. Anyone that is interested in getting my help and/or investment must follow a specific format when presenting to me (of course I make exceptions). Not only is it helpful to me in terms of understanding the business proposed, but I have found that it becomes very helpful to those seeking my advice. I make them break down their business into four parts – Opportunity, Strategy, Execution, and Reward. They have to convince me about the merit of each section before proceeding to the next. For instance, if I do not believe in the opportunity, I am not really interested in the strategy. Many entrepreneurs actually have trouble distinguishing between these sections.
 Many potential investors in early-stage companies will take a different approach, clearly my approach is not the only one or even the best one. It has served me well and I have the track record to prove it.


Behind the municipal broadband battle

Allan Holmes:

JB: Sounds like it’s a big deal, but fast Internet and slow Internet, those can be abstract ideas so lay things out for me clearly: what can people do in Tullahoma that they can’t do in other parts of the state?
 AH: In Tullahoma, there’s a small startup software company called Agisent, it actually moved from South Carolina to Tullahoma because Tullahoma’s very fast, it’s a gigabit network, one of the fastest in the world. For a town of 18,000 that’s pretty impressive. And also it’s very reliable and that’s what this company called Agisent needs. What they do is they provide a web document management service to police departments, prisons, courts typically; they are small to medium sized departments that can’t afford their own IT expert to manage their networks so that’s really important to them that they can do that in Tullahoma.
 That’s fine for Agisent. But then you go outside of Tullahoma, you just drive like 3, 4, 5 miles outside of Tullahoma into this suburban area where there are some very nice homes, and they don’t have Internet access. They don’t even have AT&T, U-verse or Charter Communications which is another telecom there who provides service in Tullahoma. They don’t serve this area. And ran into a fellow named Matt Johnson, he is an entrepreneur, he started up a company called Road Rage Gauges, which are gauges that you put in your truck or high performance car to measure how it’s performing so you don’t overtax your engine or damage it in some way. What he did was he spent $2,000 rigging up a system so that he could get wireless access, but that’s just way too slow for him. He has clients in China and South Africa and Germany that he has to talk to and when we visited him at his home, this is what he told us about his experience:

Get ready for companies that run themselves.

David Morris:

Imagine, for instance, a bike-rental system administered by a DAC hosted across hundreds or thousands of different computers in its home city. The DAC would handle the day-to-day management of bikes and payments, following parameters laid down by a group of founders. Those hosting the management programme would be paid in the system’s own cryptocurrency – let’s call it BikeCoin. That currency could be used to rent bikes – in fact, it would be required to, and would derive its value on exchanges such as BitShares from the demand for local bike rentals.
 Guided by its management protocols, our bike DAC would use its revenue to pay for repairs and other upkeep. It could use online information to find the right people for various maintenance tasks, and to evaluate their performance. A sufficiently advanced system could choose locations for new stations based on analysis of traffic information, and then make the arrangements to have them built.
 One of the most intriguing parts of such a system is that it allows the crowdfunding of large-scale projects without the centralisation and fees of either stock exchanges or platforms such as Kickstarter. The DAC platforms themselves are models – in the year since Bitcoin Miami, Ethereum has raised about $14 million, and BitShares around $6 million, solely through the direct sale of the digital currency that will allow people to run programs or make exchanges on their networks.

The German Moment in a Fragile World

Thomas Bagger:

“Germany is Weltmeister,” or world champion, wrote Roger Cohen in his July 2014 New York Times column1—and he meant much more than just the immediate euphoria following Germany’s first soccer world championship since the summer of unification in 1990. Fifteen years earlier, in the summer of 1999, the Economist magazine’s title story depicted Germany as the “Sick Man of the Euro.”2 Analysis after analysis piled onto the pessimism: supposedly sclerotic, its machines were of high quality but too expensive to sell in a world of multiplying competitors and low-wage manufacturing. Germany seemed a hopeless case, a country stuck in the 20th century with a blocked society that had not adapted to the new world of the 21st century, or worse, a society that was not even adaptable.
Things since then have changed significantly. In the summer of 2013, more than a year before the triumph in Rio de Janeiro, the Economist reversed its own verdict—Germany now appeared on the front page as “Europe’s Reluctant Hegemon.”3 In 2014, Germany came out on top for the second year in a row in the BBC’s annual country rating poll as the country with “the most positive influence on the world.”4 Simon Anholt’s annual “Nation Brand Index” also put Germany in the top spot in 2014.5

Chicken & Prayer

It’s always the chicken, except when it is the salad.

Years ago, while waiting for a long delayed flight in Juarez, a kind local physician took my roommate and I to dinner before we departed for Mazatlan. My roommate dealt with “Montezuma’s Revenge” in flight. Mine arrived a bit later, after midnight in our pleasant tiny motel.

That next day, while relaxing and recovering, I reflected on what might have caused our unpleasantness. It must have been the chicken.

Fifteen years later, in Anchorage, Nancy and I dined at Wendy’s – the salad bar. Later that night, Montezuma returned. A visit made doubly worse by the early morning train ride north to Denali. The train seemed to sway more than expected, made worse by a New Jersey seatmate who kindly offered stock tips for the duration.

“AT&T. Buy it and forget about it. General Motors, buy it and forget about it. Berkshire Hathaway. Buy it and forget about it.”

Two out of three is not bad.

And so it was, two decades later, Montezuma returned during a visit to Mexico. I must admit that the experience was far worse than I remembered.


Always the chicken.

The Bohemia “cerveza fria” – drank just before Montezuma arrived – made the experience that much worse.

I remember being very light headed and praying for relief. Suddenly, I felt much better. A miracle during the worse food poisoning I’ve experienced.

I pray and hope that it never occurs again. We have yet to try another pollo meal.