Reject A-players if they don’t fit your culture

Culture is more important than competence. Culture is what attracts the right kind of people, rejects the wrong kind of people, motivates staff, and gives you a chance of success. Even an A-player is not worth damaging your culture.

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Hire “we” people, not “I” people

Startups need team players. There’s no time for selfishness, or corporate psychopaths. When interviewing new candidates, listen for the words “we” and “I”. Keep the “we’s”, reject the “I’s”.

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Beware winning conventional races

Were you top of your class? Fastest kid in school? Head girl? Be careful. Winning conventional races is the path to being trapped in a career prison. Doctor. Lawyer. Accountant. Actuary. Whatever. You’re a star, so surely you must follow one of these paths? Maybe. Maybe not. Not everyone’s destiny is to sit in an…

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You need to reach escape velocity

Peter Thiel always talks about staying away from competition. Competition eats profit. Monopolies are where the profit is. Sometimes you can find a completely new game, but most times the way to escape competition is to out-run it. You need to grow much faster. You need to reach “escape velocity”. The speed that will take…

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Cut your losses early

Bought a company you shouldn’t have? Chosen a product you shouldn’t have? Hired a person you shouldn’t have? Admit your mistake. Stop, turn around, go back. Don’t pour good money after bad. Sometimes facts and circumstances change. You make mistakes. Don’t compound the mistake by refusing to admit it was one. Cut your losses early.

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Don’t fight incumbents head on

Trying to create a new bank? New insurance company? New car? Before unleashing your marketing plan, remember: These are big established industries. You can’t beat them head on. You can’t win by positioning yourself as playing in the same sandpit. Create a new game. A new sandpit. Think of Tesla. They didn’t want to fight…

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Dreaming big is still just dreaming

Just because you have big dreams, doesn’t make you a success.Dreaming is not enough. It’s not even 1%.Doing is everything.Action. Execution. Making the magic happen.That’s where the value is.If you’re going to dream, you may as well dream big.Just don’t forget that without action, a dream is meaningless, no matter how big it is.

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Stop talking about what you plan to do

“We plan to connect 2,5million households by 2020!”What does it achieve making grandiose promises and predictionsWhat does it achieve bragging about your future achievements?Maybe it distracts people from your current underperformance. Maybe it feeds your ego.Definitely it doesn’t make you money.Forget about making predictions of what you will achieve in the future.Only talk about what…

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The compounding effect of not making mistakes

Most successful entrepreneurs, billionaires, only started their business after the age of 40.Why did they succeed?Sometimes it was making great decisions.More common it was avoiding bad decisions.Experience teaches you what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work.The compounding effect of not making bad decisions outweighs the compounding effect of making great decisions.Aim low. Aim to not make…

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Don’t judge a book by its cover

You meet a new person. Potential employee/shareholder/partner.Black, white, indian, overweight, underweight, ugly, beautiful, smiley, frowny, badly dressed, whatever.Your first impression has a direct line to your brain, and you automatically form a judgement.Overweight? Must be lazy.Frowny? Must be unfriendly.Badly dressed? Must be sloppy.And so you discount that person before before he/she has had a chance…

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Get rid of the cool kids

Remember school? Remember the cool kids?The cool kids made fun of your pimples, your weight, your clothes, your height, your race, your cheesiness.If you were not a cool kid, school was not fun.Thankfully, school is finished. Real life is here.In real life, it doesn’t matter what you look like, or what you wear, or how…

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Give yourself a minimum margin of 30%

In business, you always need room for error.A safety zone. A buffer.If you buy and sell a widget, you want to make sure you don’t pay more than you can sell it for.The rule of thumb is 30%.If you think you can on-sell a widget for R100, then never pay more than R70.That buffer will save you…

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