Just learned this magical (?) new hack for folks that “uhm” and “uh” a lot on calls. Write out whatever your verbal tic is, (mine is “uhm”), draw a big red circle around it, and cross through it right before your meeting. 🚫

This brings awareness to your verbal clutter to replace these filler words with thoughtful pauses.

Let me know if it worked for you on your next call :).

Diversity Rider Clause

The “diversity rider” is a clause that anyone can add to diversify a startup’s term sheet.

“Diversity Rider: In order to advance diversity efforts in the venture capital industry, the Company and the lead investor, [Fund Name], will make commercial best efforts to offer and make every attempt to include as a co-investor in the financing at least one Black [or other underrepresented group including, but not limited to LatinX, women, LGBTQ+] check writer (DCWs), and to allocate a minimum of [X]% or [X] $’s of the total round for such co-investor.”

That easy.

Shifts in the VC Machine

I’ve been noticing some major shifts in how the VC machine operates:

(1) Investors seeking bridge rounds (previously stigmatized), particularly before an immediate mark-up

(2) Secondaries being a buy / sell strategy & a (now positive) way to provide liquidity for founders

(3) Investors moving into “vices” (obvious example: CBD)

(4) LPs preferring to join syndicates, particularly for new GPs, vs. getting locked into a fund

(5) Platforms being a need to have vs. nice to have, & leveraging data, even at the early stages

(6) Mid-range VC firms investing into source funds to get competitive deal access at the pre-seed stages

(7) Investors seeking & building alongside “pre-founders” (proven operators prior to formation) for *massive* multiple potential and sizable equity ownership

(8) GPs selecting a Series LLC (or SPVs) vs LP structure for cost & time savings on formation and legal, and to hook broader LP engagement

(9) GPs selecting rolling funds on AngelList vs. traditional closes

(10) Start-ups exiting via SPACs vs. acquisition / IPO

(11) Influencer solo GPs raising nano-funds & winning due to size of following

(12) Founders selectively engaging investors for a complete power reversal

How do we capitalize on these changes? What other stigmas are now a strategy?

3 Epiphanies

Three simple epiphanies:

1) always find a way to leave people better than how you found them
2) let others reject you, but never reject yourself from opportunity
3) over indexing on people is usually right – givers win

What are yours?

Naughty Investors

So …. you are telling me that your potential investor cancelled last minute for no reason? They’re asking you to book a call several weeks from now? They missed or arrived late without a heads up or apology? They’re texting and answering emails on the call? They didn’t review the materials and they’re not responding to email follow-ups? They’re fishing for information with no investment intention?

It’s not you.

We have all been there, and it’s time to flip the script on bad behavior.

Founders (and GPs) should disqualify investors that play games.

These interactions do not set the foundation for a long-term partnership, which should be built on mutual respect, transparency, and empathy.

There are plenty of investors in the universe.

Maintain an abundance mentality, and focus on optimizing for the A-team, not chasing the B-team.

You are going to get discouraged.

(This is positive, promise)

You are going to get discouraged.

Sometimes this will come from you, and sometimes from others.

This will happen if you are making big moves and taking risks – especially in unexplored territories.

Discouraging feedback tends to be based on first impressions, limited data, and the other person’s experience.

This feedback may or may not hold true for you and your unique journey.

The world is changing faster than ever – and where there is change there is massive opportunity.

There is this opportunity in every sense of the word – opportunity for new types of businesses, leaders, jobs, and industries.

When you’re faced with this inevitable pushback from others (or even yourself) – what will you do?

Will you quit?

Change direction?

It’s one thing to make a pivot based on discouragement alone (internal or external).

It’s another thing entirely to take into consideration this feedback and then make a pragmatic decision because it makes sense for *you*.

So ask yourself, when faced with this inevitable doubt / pushback / feedback:

Are these assumptions and beliefs true for *you* *today*, as you see this fast-paced world?

What’s really driving you to closer or farther away from your goals?

Let’s always hope good reason ;).


“What’s my ideal career path?”

I often get asked this question.
My answer is quite simple.

Your ideal path happens when you operate at the intersection of 3 realizations:

(1) Your unique strengths.
(2) Your “bigger than you” mission.
(3) What the market values.

It is often the higher mission, (2), that feels very fuzzy…

Unique strengths, (1), are often readily recognized by others, and frequently commented on.

Most people also have a sense for what the market values, (3), or can readily get there with some discovery.

It is discovering (2) that takes time, serendipity, and soul searching to identify.

My (2), for example, is serving founders to drive the highest impact possible.

This realization took several years of exploration (and of course, as with anything worth pursuing, a fair share of disappointment and failure).

My (2) intersecting (1) and (3) took me to the fast-paced, high-impact, and quite thrilling world of early-stage investing.

This didn’t happen overnight. It took serious time, trial & error, and patience to find my “person-career” fit.

What is your (2)?

Partnerships & Energy Matching

Partnerships – in business, romance, friendships – are all about energetic matching.

This mental model demystifies rejection: the culprit is that they’re just not meeting you at your frequency.

Perfect. That’s exactly the clarity you want.

Partnerships should amplify not cancel out.

Classic Fundraising Dilemma

Classic fundraising dilemma for founders – investors want to come into your next round, but not the current one.

It is kind of a weird circumstance that the round you’re not even raising for is already oversubscribed!

The feedback? That generalized and unactionable “too early” response that no one likes to read.

Well, if you are a homerun, they’re not making it in either round. Right? 🙈

Keep that hustle.

Recipe for Charisma

“That founder oooooozes charisma!”

What does that even mean?! Well, let’s codify it.

The recipe for charisma:

(1) Single-minded purpose.
(2) Contradictory mystery.
(3) Saintliness, living out ideals and deeply held values without caring about consequences.
(4) Eloquence, power of words with emotional and theatrical delivery.
(5) Calm self-assuredness, with self control to never show fear or nerves.
(6) Uninhibited, fearless, adventurous attitude.
(7) Dangerous sexuality.
(8) Dreamlike vibe, with fluid in body and spirit.
(9) Openness to experience.
(10) Vulnerable need for love to soften self-confidence.
(11) Thriving in troubled waters to flaunt daring and further enhance aura.
(12) Magnetism with piercing eyes.
(13) Ability to exert force without action and direct communicate.
(14) Excitable presence.

Master Communication

I’ve been on *many* video calls over the last 3 months, which means adapting to a range of communication styles.

Here are 7 tips from master communicators:

(1) Make it about the person by repeating key selling points about them & their work.

(2) Have your “objection detector” on. Not all objections are obvious, and can be disguised as a general statement or quick comment. Address these directly & succinctly.

(3) Build on a response with helpful context. Have a sense for the other person’s information gaps. Strong understanding => deeper engagement => speedy decisions.

(4) Go in with a clear intention.

(5) Communication happens before you say your 1st word. Keep emails & body language tight.

(6) Create “conversational containers” when having difficult conversations or when you feel reserved.

You can do this by designing at the start how communication will flow:

“We’re here to talk about X, and it’s important to get feedback from everyone, so I’ll do a roundtable & also share my thoughts” or “the pace of these meetings moves too quickly to interject sometimes, so I may interrupt with my thoughts.”

(7) Maintain a healthy & positive self-image. Combat negative self-talk by following a “I’m not X” or “I can’t Y” with a positive remark: “but I am Z”.

Unflinching focus

10 actions to have unflinching focus:

(1) Intermittent fasting, black coffee for breakfast, and avoid eating a few hours before bed

(2) Exercise daily (cardio), even if it’s 15 min HIIT or 45 min of walking

(3) Sleep 7-8 hours (tactical: don’t use phone / laptop before bed, dark room, humidifier, set ideal temperature for you, invest in an ultra comfy bed with accessories, play nature sounds, breathing techniques for deep sleep)

(4) Minimal toxins (alcohol, drugs, sugar)

(5) Remove distractions (x out all windows / extensions that give notifications, mute phone and make it inconvenient to access)

(6) Take hourly breaks, even if you don’t feel like you need it, ideally walks outdoors

(7) Brutal, but, avoid people that lower your high frequency or distract 🙈 byeee

(8) Say no to meetings that aren’t additive, or minimize your time in them if you can’t avoid (15-30 min vs 45-60 min) – you’ll be amazed by how much you can squeeze in 15 min with an agenda

(9) Hard tasks in the morning, low mental burden tasks at night

(10) Set aggressive deadlines for yourself – this puts focus in hyperdrive (eg – finish this LARGE task in the next 2 hours, you’ll make meaningful progress even if you don’t finish)

Valuations for early-stage companies

I just chatted with a founder. He wanted to know how to value his early-stage company.

Here are some golden nuggets from our convo:

(1) It’s the wild west out there in early-stage start-up land. Meaning – it’s a marketplace without fixed rules around valuation.

(2) It ultimately comes down to what investors are willing to pay.

(3) Strength of the team is quite important. Specifically: previous exits, domain expertise, unfair advantages like a specialized network, and affiliations.

(4) Product progress is also considered. Do you have an MVP? Do you have a pathway to strong IP? What’s defensible about what you’ve built / are building?

(5) Traction. This is one of the strongest signals for many investors. Specifically – paid pilots, elite partnerships, or lots of eyeballs.

(6) You don’t have to price the round right away. Capped convertible notes with discounts are fairly common in the early stages.

(7) Size of the market, how hot the space is, and the potential upside is also taken into consideration in the pricing.

(8) Beyond the fundamentals, don’t underestimate FOMO. It’s important to generate a lot of investor interest to show momentum and close quickly.

(9) Crowdsource valuations from investors / founders that know your space.

(10) Reference Crunchbase / Pitchbook.


This post is a random set of quick thoughts and questions.

Most of your fears are learned and mostly negligible.

Leapfrog opportunities are life’s cheat codes. How can you save years getting to where you want to go? Some examples – create a new category, partner with the right person / entity, build a community, and ask fearlessly.

Comfort can be a special kind of prison – thinking small is a very real punishment that robs your upside and the world of your gifts.

More problems and critics are an immensely positive sign. Embrace this as indication of your growth and ability to take rapid, fearless action.

Consistent effort over time pays off. Everything is compound interest. Exponential growth feels flat for a while, and then you’ll feel the rapid build up.

Why do we feel so inhibited? Take control and own your full power. Scare people a little!

Making a trail is more fun than following a path.

When you’re swimming with sharks, find a way to be the whale.

I need to maximize. And to maximize, I need to be fanatically authentic, take ever bolder risks, challenge you and myself, set boundaries with my time and energy, welcome controversy if there is truth, and emphasize evolving. Maybe sprinkle in a big bear hug, a healthy cry, or a “f@#k off”.

Success is measured by your capacity to give and receive love.

There is a side of you that is like nobody else. Embrace these qualities. Express full comfort in your individuality – life somehow works better when you own the fact that you are different.

Ask yourself. Are you being ambitious enough?

Does the atomic hypothesis define systems beyond the physical? What is the analog for music, emotions, and other intangibles?

There’s a lot of philosophy on work culture, which poorly addresses the “why”. Culture should be a means to enable full authenticity and intensity for all parties involved. From this, you maximize productivity and happiness, and screen faster for organizational fit. Dissatisfaction can be pinpointed to inauthenticity.

Your energy and goals are magnificent. Maintain it. Build with high-energy people. Cut the cord with stagnant energy. Active mindfulness around this compounds quickly.

How do you build endurance? You endure.

Something about the word “no” takes my drive and competitiveness to a whole other dimension. I’ll take it.

Before you can receive acceptance from others, you must first gift that to yourself, fully.

I want to be like Casper – the world’s most famous ghost 👻. Working behind the scenes in venture.

To achieve more, you must first expand your self image.

Admiration and envy are distinguished by comparison.

The winning combo: conviction, hustle, and access.

Quick take on skills:
Kindness (underrated)
MBA (overrated)

A better question than “how can I be helpful?” is “what are your top 3 concerns / priorities?”

No one gets extreme results by being average.

Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Conviction in yourself is the first step to building something incredible. Conviction in others is a fantastic gift to give.

Random thought: there are so many “desirable” opportunities where everyone is trying to break in, but the folks that are in are trying to break out.

My current mantra, inspired by Rumi — ‘Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor.’

Fundraising mental hack: imagine you had to pay the investor to test you.

Productivity Playlist

My “slap my laptop around, show it who’s boss, TGIF” playlist.

Curated below:

kiss the sky – shawn lee ping pong orchestra
gold – kiiara
let it happen – tame Impala
doin time – lana del rey
gods and monsters – lana del rey
a moment apart – odesza
oblivion – grimes
life itself – glass animals
no church in the wild – kanye / jayz
through the wire – kanye
partition – beyonce
tongues – joywave
solitary man – johnny cash
cruel world – phantogram
how deep is your love – calvin harris
open wide – calvin harris / big sean
symphony no 7 movement 2 – beethoven
you don’t own me – grace
another love – tom odell
cool girl – tove lo
begging for thread – banks
dressed in black – sia
the man – the killers
trampoline – shaed
bellyache – billie eilish
imaginary places – busdriver
seven nation army – feat haley reinhart
lost – frank ocean
I follow rivers – lykke li
malibu – miley cyrus
tear you apart – she wants revenge
99 – elliot moss
work – iggy azalea
telephone – lady gaga / beyonce
ocean eyes – billie eilish
hysteria – muse
nevermind – dennis llyod
your love – glass animals
truth hurts – lizzo
sweatpants – childish gambino
ocean avenue – duke dumont
ihiye beseder – cafe shahor hazak
enjoy the silence – depeche mode
in my mind – dynoro and gigi

What’s your theme song today? 🎶

Asymmetric Risk-Reward

Everyone buys that there is no reward without risk.

Top of mind for me lately: how do we create an asymmetric risk-reward profile with whatever we are building? AKA – how do we maximize the upside while minimizing the downside.

Let’s chunk this big question down to many sub-questions.

Here we go:
What is my unfair advantage?
What are my 2nd degree unfair advantages? AKA – unfair advantages of folks in your network.
What resources do I have? Itemize these.
What resources can be made available to me with minimal input? Itemize these too.
What would a favorable outcome look like? Dream scary big here.
What are the most creative ways to reach that outcome? Nothing is a bad idea at this stage. Get wildly open minded here.
How do I embed network effects and/or multiply my efforts? Create maximum leverage through tech and people.
What strategies will save me years getting to where I want to go? Think through the pros and cons of each – everything has a tradeoff.
What are my biggest barriers to growth right now? Remove these – it could be real or mental.

(This is optimistic, promise!)

(This is optimistic, promise!)

There is a lot of uncertainty right now.

Ray Dalio just went on the record saying we are heading into a depression similar to the ’30s and Bird laid off 406 employees in < 2 minutes. On the other end... This has been a unifying experience for the world and families. I have also interacted with *many* founders that are successfully raising and thriving now. It's not the strongest or smartest that survive - it's the most adaptable. Here are some ideas, inspired by these great founders, on finding pockets of opportunity: (1) Transforming the manual to the digital, with an emphasis on building communities, apprenticeship and education, and e-commerce (especially while CPMs are low). (2) Shifting business models to unlock free services, substantially reduced or delayed pricing, or increased liquidity for consumers. Or - offering a year's membership ($xxx) for just $x down. (3) Pivoting (near-term) to address people's basic needs - safety, health, and love, and seeking grants/media/partnerships to do so. (4) Finding "bright stars" that have been unfairly caught in an industry downdraft. (5) Staying authentic and expressive through art, music, and writing to connect with others and deepen relationships.

I get asked about career a lot.

I get asked about career a lot.

I’ve had a (really, really) weird one, but here’s what I’ve learned in charting my own path:

(1) You have to find the intersection of (a) mission, (b) what the market values, and (c) your strengths.

(2) Stay aggressively authentic and honest with yourself on what these three things are.

(3) Outline your values and stick to them. Here are mine:

(a) stay curious (b) empathy over ego (c) radical open mindedness (d) be a proactive problem solver, and (e) exercise agency with rigorous, independent thinking.

(4) If something isn’t working for you in a job/relationship/partnership – identify the root cause and fix it. It’s also not wrong to quit.

(5) Make sure for your next thing, you’re “running towards” not “running from”.

(6) Talk to a lot of (credible) people. This is critical. Put on your “VC hat” and conduct extensive due diligence on the market, team, opportunity, potential, and terms. Be thorough.

(7) Never underestimate intuition and serendipity.

(8) Everything is compound interest: your skillset, relationships, and results. Stay patient.

Fundraising simplified!

Fundraising is tough – but it doesn’t have to be!

Here is some know-how I’ve picked up over the years:

(1) Have an agenda and clarity on the purpose of the meeting beforehand.

(2) In the call, do some pre-vetting. “To respect both of our time and guide our conversation, I have a few questions for you – are you actively investing? What is your typical check size? What were some of your recent investments?”

It doesn’t have to be heavy. Just those three questions will give you a lot of insight. Avoid folks fishing for information.

(3) The point of the first meeting is to get a second meeting.

(4) The purse-holder doesn’t have all the power. You are inviting them to a worthwhile opportunity, and you both have to mutually agree to work together.

(5) Seek ways to acknowledge and align with the other person.

(6) Leave 5 minutes at the end to set up the next meeting, or outline next steps required to get to a second meeting. “What is your process?”

(7) Explore their value-add to what you are building. You want hard-working money with people devoted to your success.

(8) You want someone committed to the call. Ask why they were excited to chat, and what are they most interested in learning about.

(9) Ask for a “temperature check” and handle objections directly.

Tough, but not impossible, to fundraise

It’s a tough, but far from impossible time for seed-stage founders.

Here’s the treasure map to getting to your spoils (aka $$$ from investors):

1. Positive Unit Economics

Know your P&L and metrics inside and out, and focus on how you’ll get to, or are already getting, positive unit economics.

Show a realistic mapping of your assumptions to how your unit-economics will play out in real life.

Investors are likely not buying the growth-at-all-costs mentality.

2. Recession-Proof Scenarios

Show how your product performs well during uncertain economic times.

There is continued market uncertainty, and some investors remain bearish.

3. COVID Behavioral Drivers

Post-COVID, companies and consumers will have adopted many new behaviors.

For example, a refreshed POV on working from home, more frequent food delivery, increased online shopping, etc.

If you can show how those behaviors positively impact your product, that’s valuable.

4. Adjust Strategy & Operations

Show investors how you are changing your roadmap, operating costs, and product offering to thrive in the current climate.

5. Generate Momentum

Fundraising is driven by both business fundamentals and market sentiment (FOMO).

Generate momentum with investors. Get hyper creative with this!

Why is it so hard to ask for the things we want?

“Just ASK!” You know this. Why then is it so hard to ask for the things we want? Because this kind of advice isn’t immediately actionable in a negotiation. There’s more to it.

Negotiation plays a major role in your day-to-day. So does failing to negotiate!

Let’s hack effective negotiations:

Favor interests over positions. Why do you want your position? Clearly communicate your reasoning before discussing conclusions. Make sure the counterpart understands your why.

Work hard to create a BATNA, AKA a strong alternative if you fail to reach a negotiation. This takes time and effort beforehand.

Be radically open-minded in solutions that meet your why. Have an “anything wild goes” mindset when brainstorming solutions for mutual gain.

Select and agree on objective criteria for judgement. Stick to this.

Label emotions and critical talking points to show empathy and understanding.

Listen intently first, then be heard.

Find the gap. What does the counterpart NEED? This can be monetary, emotional, etc. Create a safe environment to discover these needs.

Make it easy to get a yes. Draft a proposal where a simple “yes” is sufficient and workable. Make your stance tangible via writing.

Great Decisions, Bad Outcomes

A bad outcome doesn’t mean you made a bad decision.

Even the BEST decisions can sometimes lead to bad results! Why?

Most major decisions involve high uncertainty and risk.

Sometimes these risks are unknown!

This makes outcomes unpredictable.

On the flip side…

Great outcomes could be a result of very bad decision making!

Sometimes it’s up to luck and timing (out of your control).

This can be for the better… or not.

If you keep making strategic decisions, you’ll maximize your odds for a good outcome (in your control).

Don’t be discouraged by short-term outcomes.

In the long-term, sensible decisions lead to great results.

Probabilities are on your side.

So make the best decision with the information given.

And keep moving forward with optimism and confidence!

Leading a Team

Leading a team is challenging. Looking back, I’ve dissected what worked when initiating a new project with a new team:

1. Create an organized system of folders, including high-level categories that make sense for the team’s functions. Train on how to use document management system.

2. Have a detailed agenda and notetaker for all meetings.

3. Collect the team’s contact information and preferred method of communication. Share with everyone.

4. Set clear and detailed expectations at the 1st meeting. Cover ground rules, key success metrics, vision, and timeline.

5. For large/complex teams, divide the team by function and assign team leads. Meet with the team leads on a more regular basis. Make leads responsible for each function’s follow-through.

6. Create a Gantt chart. If the project is complex and multi-function, require each functional unit to create their own Gantt chart, managed by the team lead.

7. Create a task management tool for the team to update prior to meetings.

8. Send weekly email reminders on upcoming deadlines.

9. Set recurring meetings in the same location/time.

10. Speak to underperforming team members in private.

11. Establish credibility/boost team confidence by tackling low-hanging fruit in the 1st week.

12. Set monthly performance reviews.

Get Out Of Your Own Way

The only thing standing between you and your dream job is yourself. Get out of your own way.

1. Power poses (superwoman).

2. Visualize success in immense detail the night before. Even sounds and subtle decor.

3. Root out imposter syndrome by knowing that with any job there is a learning curve (and you can handle it).

4. Wear an outfit that looks and feels good. It’s important to be stylishly professional and comfortable.

5. Focus so much energy on the other person you forget you’re nervous!

Actively listen, provide responses that show depth of thinking, and ask questions to keep the interviewer engaged too.

6. Practice mock interviews with friends.

There are tons of sample questions online you can reference.

7. Stay true to your style.

8. Sleep well the night before and aim to do a workout the day of (yoga recommended).

9. Have the confidence in knowing that you are bringing value to the table. You have something to offer.

Remember, it’s an exchange of value.

10. Interview the interviewer! It’s a 2-way street after all. You and they are exploring fit.

Nerves are the enemy during any interview!

The Lean Startup in a Nutshell

Every founder has heard of The Lean Startup, creating an MVP, and applying the scientific method to their company.

The goal is “to figure out [empirically] the right thing to build—the thing [real] customers want [not what they say they want] and will pay for [and why]—as quickly as possible.”

Identify and test your leap-of-faith assumptions to validate success or failure early on.

DATA comes 1st!

Test your key assumptions in a time and cost efficient way.

LEARN through setting a hypothesis, and validating via split testing, targeted customer interviews (with 5 why’s and open-ended questions), and a pre-MVP.


Don’t worry about competitors stealing your idea.

If you are that easy to copy, you’re doomed anyway ;).

Continue to outlearn the competition.

PIVOT as needed:

Zoom-in: feature becomes whole product

Zoom-out: whole product becomes single feature

Customer segment: solve problem for a different customer

Customer need: discover a related problem you can solve

Platform: change from product to platform

Business architecture: change from high margin, low volume to low margin, high volume or vice versa

Engine of growth: (1) sticky (2) paid (3) viral

AND/OR revenue model, customer channel, technology, etc.

Lucas Miller, co-creator.

Pretotyping vs. Prototyping

Prototypes help you fail fast, BUT not fast enough.

Instead, make a PREtotype, for example:

Product: IBM’s Speech-to-Text Machine

Pretotype: Skilled typist + keyboard in the other room

This was a quick & easy test vs. the years of R&D to make a working prototype.

IBM then tested pretotype reactions.

They learned people didn’t want the machine because of:

1. Sore throats

2. Noisy work environments

3. Confidential material

The product wasn’t right.

Keyboards are here to stay.

Great pretotypes:

1. Test your hypothesis quickly.

2. Fake your product’s features before you build.

3. Answer “is this the RIGHT thing to build?” NOT “can we build it?”

4. Invite failure. Suppress feelings of insecurity/perfectionism.

5. Generate a high initial & ongoing interest. Conduct multiple tests over time.

Pretotypes can: replace tech with humans (“Wizard of Oz”), have stripped down (MVP) or nonfunctional features, be rented, test a small subsect, lead to “fake doors” to test clicks, and/or relabel existing products.

Data > opinions.

Don’t double down on products that have not been battle tested.

Build a pretotype.


Author of Pretotype It, Alberto Savoia

Entrepreneur & Product Guru, Bijan Bina

Author of The Lean Startup, Eric Ries

10 Tenets of Closing a Deal

Here are the tenets of closing a deal.

Violate these at your own risk ;)…

1. “Present on your feet, close in your seat.” Stay seated.

2. “Talk is cheap.” Get it in writing. Have a proposal (and a notebook for notetaking) ready. This makes your proposal tangible, valuable, and credible. Get to this stage as soon as possible.

Don’t know how to structure a proposal? Be resourceful. Find someone in your domain and request a template.

3. “Say it with conviction.” Articulate clearly and audibly. Delivery is key. Demonstrate enthusiasm, positive energy, appreciation, and confidence.

Improve this via relentless practice: record yourself (video and audio) and book public speaking engagements.

4. Always have a closing mindset. That means have a pen available and the attitude to win.

5. Develop rapport via humor, mirroring, and common interests.

6. Take no as a “not now” – be persistent (and professional). Send multiple follow-ups. Don’t quit until you close.

7. Be a swiss army knife. Have a huge variety of strategies to make it happen.

8. Treat everyone like a buyer. It’s a combo of the Pygmalion effect and self-fulfilling prophecy.

9. Focus on problem-solving and interests, not positions. Understand their side.

10. Provide value AFTER you close.

Transferable Skills

You’re told to sell yourself to find a job.

But what if you don’t have a spectacular work history? OR any work history? Let’s chat.

Here is an expert tip from public speaker, software engineer, and mentor, Michelle Brenner:

Do not focus on the task. Focus on the skills you’ve gained.

Your skills are more important than how you used them.

At every job you were in, you learned something.

Barista? Customer service, multi-tasking, and problem-solving.

Stay-at-home parent? Project management and finding creative solutions.

Retail? Attention to detail and quality control.

Freelancer? Communications, client relations, and time management.

Not every job is perfect or aligned with our career goals!

Don’t eliminate these jobs from your past, but repurpose them.

Focus on the positives and the transferable skills gained.

Craft a winning story aligned with your target role.

Also, remember an interview is a two-way street.

If the manager cannot appreciate your skills, find one who can ;).

There’s an app for everything!

Here’s how I manage my time, work, and (yes, even) fun:

Asana – task management
Slack – team communication
Google Drive – cloud storage
GBoard on iPhone – preferred keyboard
Google Calendar + Calendly (Or, MixMax) – scheduling appointments
Groupon – scoping deals for hair/nails/massages
Overdrive, Audible – audiobooks
Thrive Market – organic goodies/beauty products
Personal Capital – personal financial management
MailChimp – newsletter send-outs
Gusto – payroll
HubSpot – CRM
Skrapp – obtaining emails via LinkedIn
Squarespace, WordPress – web dev
Shopify – e-commerce web dev
Uber Conference – free conference calls
Insight Timer – meditation
Down Dog – at-home yoga
Class Pass – fitness
Shapr, LinkedIn – networking
Splice – quick video editing
Brave – browser alternative
LinkedIn, Upwork – professional services
Canva – graphic design and pitch decks
Fiverr – logo designer and illustrators
Waze – quick GPS navigation
Lyft – rideshare
Venmo – sending payments
Grammarly – grammar correction
Expensify – receipt tracking
Splitwise – splitting costs
Kickstarter and Pinterest – inspiration
Pandora – music
Ankiapp and Duolingo – language learning
Skyscanner – cheap flights
Coursera – online courses

Diverse Communication

Diverse teams call for diverse communication strategies.
In our weekly hashtag#roshniandariana post, we cover working with shy and aggressive teammates.

1. Find a comfortable environment.
2. Respect boundaries. Be patient.
3. Lead the conversation. Be prepared with an agenda.
4. Pay attention to and label nonverbal cues. “I sense you are feeling X.”
5. Mirror body language and volume to build rapport.
6. Encourage communication by not interrupting and asking open-ended questions.
7. Be highly engaging. Use phrases like “Is this how you’d like this project done?”
8. Use a tone that is slow-paced and respectful.
9. Start the conversation off with a sincere compliment.
10. If others interrupt during a meeting, state “I’d like to hear X speak some more.”

1. Start the conversation on common ground.
2. Listen more, speak less.
3. Use direct language.
4. Use more visuals and less words.
5. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion.
6. Show you are actively listening by nodding.
7. Validate their thoughts by using phrases like “that’s right.”
8. If interrupted, say “I want to hear you” or “correct me if I’m wrong”.
9. Don’t be defensive or angry.
10. Understand and then be understood. Stand by your point. Seek win-win solutions during disagreements.

It’s who knows YOU.

It’s NOT what you learn during your internship.
It’s WHO you meet.

Lightning quick list on how to network during an internship:

1. Start with your team. Ask for an informal chat + intros to others. Start with a people’s person. Repeat.

2. Go to every social and make the first move. Use the “I’m new to this company” card and become a networking machine.

3. Search your school’s alumni on LinkedIn and reach out to them for lunch.

4. Visit professors, advisors, TAs and ask if they know someone in your company and can make an introduction.

5. Dress to impress. Appearances on the job are important.

6. Write a post on LinkedIn that you want to meet more people at your company. Mention you’re currently a student at X university.

7. Find and attend company activities and groups that interest you. Be a “Yes AND” person during the entire summer.

8. Ask HR for help. Say you’re a new intern, and want to know how you can meet new people.

9. Network with interns of different teams and make sure to meet their team.

10. Arrange a freestyle meetup at a coffee shop with interns from other companies. Ask them to give you a walking tour of their company!

It’s not what you know, but WHO KNOWS YOU!

You are an individual.

You are an individual.

Others may try to assign neat categories for you. These categories are confining and narrow. Complying will gain social acceptance, but denying is how you gain power.

Embrace your unique skills and ideas. Agreeing to the judgements of others makes you easier to manage and predict.

Favor power, freedom, and the unconventional over this restricting dynamic.

Realize how these labels, comments, and verbal boxes confine you and your goals. Feel the pain and repression associated with this restriction.

By being unique, you create something novel. This gains respect. The kind of respect you will never gain from conformity.

Do this by keeping others off-balance via reinvention and mystery. Avoid the need to please and live up to assigned judgements or false ideas of how you should behave.

Write your own story.

You’re in charge.

The Consultant’s Dilemma

The learning-credibility tradeoff AKA, the consultant’s dilemma.

How do you demonstrate expertise on a project that requires TONS of learning?

Here’s how to WOW a client without the “smoke and mirrors”:

1. Ask direct questions. You do not have to know it all.

2. Listen more than you talk (initially).

3. Set a hypothesis. Run experiments.

4. Voice information that you know that is relevant. Be highly resourceful in finding this information. This means internal docs, past assignments, client docs, google, library, informational interviews etc.

5. Focus on presentation. Aesthetics are important, too. Use less text and more visuals to communicate.

6. Clearly communicate thoughts. Practice presentation and public speaking skills whenever possible.

7. Map out a high-level view of the problem to demonstrate understanding (and to ensure alignment).

8. Speak the same language. Pick up on jargon and acronyms.

9. Pay attention to your surroundings and the little details. How does the client/organization really operate?

10. Seek low-hanging fruit for a quick win right away. This establishes credibility and increases client confidence.

11. Relentlessly move from idea to planning to execution. Use productivity tools like Asana to help.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better for worse as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.

-Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We built it! Why aren’t they coming?”

“We built it! Why aren’t they coming?”

Pump the brakes. Let’s take a step back to go 5 steps forward:

1. It’s all about face time with your customers. Relentlessly schedule 1:1 interviews. Here’s a goal: 100 interviews in 7 weeks (reference: NSF I-Corps).

2. Complete a Business Model Canvas. Be targeted. For ex, your customer segments aren’t companies, they’re people. “Hotels” vs. “Director of Operations at Mid-Sized Hotels”. Yes, it’ll all feel wrong at first. These are guesses.

3. Set a specific hypothesis to validate the components of your Business Model Canvas. For ex, “HR in the telecommunications industry wants to design their own custom app to get feedback and record metrics on increased productivity.”

4. As you collect data from interviews, start crafting your business thesis. This will include what you do, your customer, and why they care.

For ex, “We create AI that automates project tracking. Our customers are project managers for upstream oil and gas field services companies. We ensure projects are completed 10 weeks ahead of schedule.”

5. It’s a bit scientific. Listen > talk. Note patterns. Iterate. Ask open-ended questions. Ask for intros. Take notes. Use the “5 Why’s” Technique.

No “Thank You”!

Avoid these words: “Thank You”.

What? Why? Huh? I’ll explain…

It’s vital to avoid these words when offered a job.

Do not indicate the company has got you… yet.

Keep in mind this is a business transaction.

You are providing an important service for payment.

They called you because they want you, not because they’re doing you a favor.

Here are some tips to stay cool and confident, and to demonstrate you are in high demand:

1. Avoid other words/phrases that read like “thank you”, including “great” “I’m grateful” and “wonderful”.

Here’s a better response: “Let me take out my notes” or “I have a few questions about the position”.

2. Use awkward pauses to your advantage. Resist pressure to fill the silence.

3. Have the company say the first number. When pressed for a number, state you first want to see if you can provide value, and at this point, you are seeking more information to see if the position is a good fit.

4. You get what you ask for. Do your research (Glassdoor, informational interviews) and know the right $ ranges. Use phrases such as “I want this to work”.

Remember, it is not an offer until you see a contract.

Lay the groundwork for an effective negotiation.

Know your worth and stay strong!

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. Nah.

Instead, chat with your boss with an undeniable swagger that gets you places:

1. Do not preface your communication with “weak” language, such as “Perhaps we can consider” and “I feel that maybe”.

2. Know what you want. Come in with a game plan and research completed.

3. Always have an agenda/presentation prepared for meetings. For performance reviews, have a list of “wins” with tangible results prepared.

4. Have an opinion AND a plan. In a world where people are scared to commit to a cause and just think vs. do, you will stand out in a positive way.

5. Do not just state problems. Back them up with solutions.

6. Demonstrate your value with your work and the cool/calm/collected attitude that comes with being a high performer.

7. Practice and fail. There WILL be awkward moments. That’s OK. Know that these “unrecoverable moments” appear way worse to you than to anyone else in the room.

8. Emotional self-discipline is key. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and positivity, even when things aren’t going well.

9. When something isn’t working for you, speak up.

10. Get straight to the point FIRST, and THEN share your thought process and seek guidance.

Job hunting is an art.

Job hunting is an art. We’ve mastered it.
Make it rain offer letters with these hacks:

1. Informational interviews are key. Start with 1st degree connections and ask for intros. Focus on building relationships.

2. If you don’t have 1st degree connections, here’s a cold message prompt:

“Hi [NAME], your work history is inspiring! I also work in [INDUSTRY] and would love to connect.
BTW, we have [XYZ] in common.”

Once you get a response, ask for an informational interview to learn more about them.
Be genuine.

3. Follow the company on your LinkedIn. Recruiters may check for this.

4. Write your profile summary to align with the company and the position. A great format to follow is: why you do what you do, how you do it, and what you do.

5. Submit engaging comments on the company’s posts. Demonstrate your value via thoughtful questions.

6. Comment on posts from individuals within the company. Again, high-value, insightful comments.

7. Achieve “All-Star” status on your LinkedIn profile. Ensure sure all points align exactly with your resume.

Brownie Points: Join a group with participants from within the company. Engage target members by discussing topics relevant to the group’s mission.

“But nobody does it that way.”

“But nobody does it that way.”

You know you’re on the right track if you hear this.

Fear is automatic. Your brain is wired for survival. It takes a strong mind to go against the grain and do something that someone hasn’t done before.

So how do you prepare?

Feed your mind. Meditate (mindful walking, breathing exercises, yoga, journaling), read (books, audiobooks, articles, posts), and learn (online courses, local college, informational interviews, etc). Find ways to grow and learn each day.

Self-discipline is everything. This means controlling your emotions, thoughts, actions, and words, and how the opinions of others impact you. It is entirely your decision on how to respond, and whether to accept the information you are given.

Fear is physical. Train not just your mind, but your body to be strong.

This could mean working out just 30 minutes per day. Mind and body are linked.

Take action. The less you procrastinate the better. Procrastination makes endeavors look much bigger and scarier than they are. Think less, do more. Actions snowball.

You may not have a mentor, but it’s not hard to find a role model.

Everything seems impossible until someone does it.

Have the courage and initiative to be the first.

Mother Theresa

People are often unreasonable, illogical,
And self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you
Of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some
False friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank
People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

Boss Chat Swagger

His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy. Nah.

Let’s chat with your boss with an undeniable swagger that gets you places:

1. Do not preface your communication with “weak” language, such as “Perhaps we can consider” and “I feel that maybe”.

2. Know what you want. Come in with a game plan and research completed.

3. Always have an agenda/presentation prepared for meetings. For performance reviews, have a list of “wins” with tangible results prepared.

4. Have an opinion AND a plan. In a world where people are scared to commit to a cause and just think vs. do, you will stand out in a positive way.

5. Do not just state problems. Back them up with solutions.

6. Demonstrate your value with your work and the cool/calm/collected attitude that comes with being a high performer.

7. Practice and fail. There WILL be awkward moments. That’s OK. Know that these “unrecoverable moments” appear way worse to you than to anyone else in the room.

8. Emotional self-discipline is key. Demonstrate your enthusiasm and positivity, even when things aren’t going well.

9. When something isn’t working for you, speak up.

10. Get straight to the point first, and then share your thought process and seek guidance.

This means WAR.

This means WAR. Do you have a WARRIOR CEO?

Let’s compare and contrast peacetime and wartime CEOs:

Wartime CEOs:

1. Leave no room for creativity outside of core mission.

2. Violate protocol to win.

3. Focus on all the details that interfere with the main objective.

4. Build HR organizations that can execute layoffs.

5. Let the war define culture.

6. Are highly paranoid.

7. Are highly sensitive and suspicious of the competition.

8. Doesn’t speak in a normal tone.

9. Heighten contradictions.

10. Doesn’t support consensus building nor tolerate disagreements.

11. Are busy fighting enemy.

12. Doesn’t have the luxury of exiting any business.


Peacetime CEOs:

1. Know that proper protocol leads to winning.

2. Focus on the big picture.

3. Empower people to make detailed decisions.

4. Build scalable, high-volume recruiting machines.

5. Define culture.

6. Has a contingency plan.

7. Doesn’t use profanity.

8. Think of competition as other ships in a big ocean.

9. Doesn’t raise voice.

10. Avoid confrontation.

11. Set big audacious goals.

12. Exit business where not 1 or 2.

Inspo: Ben Horowitz of a16z

We need both types of leaders at different times.

Good vs. Bad Project Managers

Good vs. Bad Project Managers, from Ben Horowitz of a16z.

Here we go!

The Good:

Know the market, product, and competition

Responsible for right product/time

Know context going in and executes without excuses

Not part of the product team, they manage the product team

Crisply define and manage the delivery of the “what”, not “how”

Gather information informally

Create FAQs/presentations/white papers

Anticipate product flaws and come up with solutions

Take written positions on issues

Focus the team on revenue and customers

Deliver superior value to the marketplace and achieving market share and revenue goals

Decompose problems

Ask the press questions

Err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious

Define their job and success

Send status reports weekly

The Bad:

Lots of excuses

Complain about spending all day on the phone answering questions

Put fires out all day

Lament that the “powers that be” won’t let it happen

Focus team on competitor features

Define good projects that can’t be executed

Let engineering do whatever they want

Confused about the differences amongst delivering value, matching competitive features, and pricing

Combine all problems into one

Answer every question from the press

Want to be told what to do

Forget to send status reports

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, by Deepak Chopra. Here’s a summary distilled:

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality: Meditate in silence for 30 minutes, twice per day. Take time to be just be and experience your surroundings.

2. The Law of Giving: Keep wealth circulating. Bring whoever you encounter a gift: care, affection, love, compliments, flowers, etc. Gratefully receive gifts.

3. The Law of Karma: Similar to Newton’s Third Law. Every action generates a force of energy that returns to us in like kind. Ensure happiness and success in others.

4. The Law of Least Effort: Accept people and circumstances as they are. Take responsibility for your situation and problems. Let go of the need to defend your situation.

5. The Law of Intention and Desire: Make a list of your desires, and if they don’t happen, trust that there is a reason.

6. The Law of Detachment: Allow yourself and others the freedom to be. Do not force solutions. Embrace uncertainty.

7. The Law of Dharma: Discover your unique talents and how you can best serve humanity.

The Decoy Effect

Fooled again! Decoys in pricing.
The Decoy Effect (Asymmetric Dominance Effect) irrationally influences our decision making. Here’s how:

Let’s look at The Economist’s pricing plan.

If you’re not familiar, here’s the gist:

The Economist presented 3 subscription options:
1. Web only ($59)
2. Paper only ($125)
3. Web and paper only ($125)

Option 2 serves as a decoy to influence you to purchase Option 3.

Dan Ariely (author of Predictably Irrational) interviewed 100 MIT Students. The results: 16 students chose Option 1 and 84 students chose Option 3. No one chose Option 2.

If only given Option 1 and 3, the majority of consumers would select Option 1. In fact, Ariely repeated the survey with only these two options. The results: 68% chose Option 1 and 32% chose Option 3.

There is a clear change in preference when Option 2 is present.

This is the truth about relativity. People compare things that are easily comparable.

You commonly see decoys in retail shopping and with expensive restaurant menu items.

These anchor effects are strong. Even if you consciously attempt to think of items in absolute vs. relative terms, you could still be subconsciously swayed.

Inspo: Dan Ariely

>>>Where else do you see decoys?
>>>How do you prevent anchors from influencing your decisions?

Cold Emailing

Brrrrrr. Cold emailing. Flip the script and get warm responses.
Here are some counterintuitive tips that work:

Effective emails readily appear to be from a real person, with high social status, providing benefit to the recipient.

So what does that look like?

1. All lowercase subject line with no punctuation. Appear high status. Powerful people move quickly.

2. Ask questions in the body that trigger a “no” response. “Did you give up on solving this?”

3. Include a word the recipient will immediately recognize (name of contact, event attended etc.)

4. Follow-ups: use only one word. Subject: “status?” Body: blank. Surprisingly, trying and caring less gets more of a response (The Law of Reversed Polarity). High status, low neediness.

5. The more you show, the less excited your client will be. Do a one-and-done blow-them-away pitch, and send succinct follow-ups.

6. Attachments scream a needy marketing/sales/mass mail attempt, not personal outreach. Have a small, low-friction ask first. Eg. “If I send a brief overview can you spend 5 minutes looking at it?”

7. Suggest calls 1 week out.

8. The more important the email response, the shorter it should be. A short question with minimal explanation.

9. End with “Thanks”.

Inspo: Oren Klaff (thanks)

Ackerman Bargaining Method

You get what you negotiate. Let’s plunge into the Ackerman Bargaining Method. Here are the basics:


Targeted, incremental counter-offers until you hit your reservation price.

The steps:

1. Determine your reservation price. Consider all factors influencing price.

2. Anchor at 65% of your reservation price. This step devalues the item’s perceived worth. Anticipate a wild reaction, practice active listening with their response, and stay calm.

3. Offer 85% of your reservation price. You will likely get a thoughtful response.

4. Follow their counter with 95% of your reservation price.

5. End at 100%.


1. Use precise #’s $4,493.76 vs. $4,500.

2. Add items that are high-value to you, low-cost to them.

3. Trigger a “that’s right” response.

4. Ask how/what calibrated open-ended questions. “How am I supposed to do that?”

5. “I’m sorry, but that does not work for me” and similar phrases vs. a direct “no”. Saying sorry is not weak.

6. Mirror (repeat 3 keywords) and label emotions (“It seems like…”). Avoid “I” statements.

7. Welcome “no” over “yes”. “Have you given up on this project?”

8. Let the other side go 1st.

9. Provide a range $135k-$145k.

10. Say your name (not theirs) to generate empathy.

Inspo: Chris Voss

>>>What are your favorite (perhaps, contrarian) tips?

Get to YES!

Get to YES! There are 6 principles that determine your influence and persuasiveness:

1. Reciprocity

Be the first to give, and make sure it’s personalized and unexpected. People say yes to those that they owe. Delivery is key. Ex: giving mints after a meal to bolster tips.

2. Scarcity

People want more of what there is less of. Point out unique value proposition, and what will be lost without the product/service.

3. Authority

People follow the lead of credible experts. Ex: display diplomas or wear a uniform. It’s important to signal what makes you credible. Arrange for others (colleagues, receptionist) to establish your credibility.

4. Consistency

People like to be consistent with what they’ve previously said and done. Ask for small, initial commitments before making your big ask. Seek out voluntary, active, public commitments, ideally in writing.

5. Liking

People prefer to say “yes” to those that they like. There are 3 factors that impact likability: similarities, paying compliments, and cooperating toward mutual goals.

6. Consensus

When people will follow the behaviors of others who are similar to determine their own. Ex: “75% percent of people who have stayed in this room have reused their towel” led to a 33% increase in reuse.

Inspo: Pre-Suasion (Dr. Cialdini)

Prospect Theory

A fun topic is Prospect Theory. It seems logical that people would make decisions to maximize utility. However, people behave irrationally. Here are the basics:

1. Prospect Theory was presented by Kahneman and Tversky in ’79.

2. The theory is a behavioral model that guides decisions involving risk and uncertainty.

3. People value losses and gains differently from each other.

4. The theory suggests that losses hit us harder. There is a greater emotional impact with a loss.

5. If a person is shown two choices, presented differently (one showing gains and the other losses), the person is more likely to be risk-averse when seeking gains, and risk-taking when avoiding losses.

An example:

Scenario 1

A: 95% chance of winning $10,000.

B: 100% chance of winning $9,499.

Scenario 2

A: 95% chance of losing $10,000.

B: 100% chance of losing $9,499.

You were likely to have picked B in Scenario 1, and A in Scenario 2, despite A in 1 and B in 2 being probabilistically favorable.

This contradiction in human behavior is Prospect Theory at work.

Loss creates a greater feeling of pain relative to the joy created by a similar gain.

Equipped with this awareness around framing risk, I challenge you to think of events in terms of outcomes vs. reference points (think: insurance, stocks, deals).



You’ve all heard the enormous benefits of journaling, which includes clarity of thought, identifying and executing on goals, emotional healing, and improved mood and memory.

I’m sure you’ve also heard about the number of very successful people that have emphasized making journaling a daily habit.

I don’t know about you, but this was a very tough habit for me to keep up with in a meaningful and consistent way. It took nearly two years to make this habit “sticky”.

So, recognizing the importance of this creative outlet, I changed my approach.

Here are some hacks that have now made journaling second-nature:

1. Have prompts prepared. There are a number of sites that will automatically generate daily and thoughtful journal prompts for you, for free.

I went ahead and started using a deck of cards with self-awareness expanding questions to keep me on track.

2. Invest in a very nice journal and pen.

3. Make it easy. Have the journal right by your bed side or on your desk. If it’s convenient – it’s easier to accomplish.

4. Have a set time. Do this right upon waking, or right before bed.

5. Find a buddy! Get an extra (perhaps matching) journal for a friend or two, and share this experience with them. Keep each other accountable.

Customer Discovery and Problem Hunting

It’s vital to understand the commercial impact of your technology – before you build. But, let’s say you flipped the script, and created a brilliant solution to a TBD problem. Here’s what I’ve learned about problem hunting and customer discovery:

1. Understanding the customer is vital. This is done through interviews to map product-market, market-model, product-channel, and model-channel fit.

2. Structure is key. Stick to 5 interviews per week.

3. In-person first, video call second, phone call third.

4. Warm introductions and in-person events help tremendously. Very few (altruistic and kind) people will respond to a cold call.

5. Start with your current network. End all interviews with a request for further introductions.

6. Leave questions open ended. Listen way more than you speak. Take avid notes.

7. Ask “what didn’t I ask?” The responses to this question are often the most insightful.

8. Large sample sizes are key, but be targeted before the interview. Select a specific hypothesis and read the interviewee’s LinkedIn.

9. Join and interact with social media groups. Build rapport and ask.

10. Be grateful! Stick to your proposed time limit and thank the interviewee for their time.

11. Do not sell or talk about your product. You’re in information gathering mode only.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a (totally learnable) skill. Let’s land you that promotion or deal with these communication hacks:

1. Guide others (or establish boundaries) via logic, packaged in the form of targeted questions.

2. Nonverbal cues are powerful. Be mindful of body language and use very expressive facial responses as needed. For example, show shock with an inappropriate comment.

3. Understand motivations, influences, and bias. Ask multiple questions to get to the root cause.

4. Don’t be afraid to be unapologetic in your responses. No fear in turning others off with your ideas and opinions will counterintuitively bring you up and garner respect.

5. Take massive action. Walk the talk.

6. Do not let bad behaviors slide. Stand up for yourself and others.

7. Express the reasons for taking action when you sense resistance. Be expressive by telling a story. Use visually engaging language.

8. Shift perspective. Frame your responses by accounting for the other person’s point of view. Also, ask questions to shift their point of view.

9. Find the gap. Asses what information and assumptions they have and do not have.

10. Be deliberate with word choice, tone, and non-verbal cues.

What Do You Value?

Values have been a recurring theme this month. The four ingredients of a successful relationship are (1) mutual respect, (2) shared communication, (3) common values, and (4) common goals. What do you value?


Execution and Kicking Ass

Executing and time management! The honest answer: there are no shortcuts. It’s a lot of hard work, often. BUT! These pro-tips will help you kick ass and take names:

1. Have a set wake up time (6 AM).

2. Your morning routine matters. Spend >15 minutes to assess your top 3 priorities and arrange your calendar. Pair this reflection with a coffee ;).

3. Workout upon waking. Exercise gives you an energy surge that will carry you late into the day. Try at least 30 min of weight lifting, cardio, and/or yoga.

4. Use task and time management tools like Asana and Google Calendar, desktop and mobile.

5. Enter the “cave”. Mute notifications, hide your phone, and enter flow. Use the Pomodoro technique – alternate 50 min of intense work with 10 min breaks.

6. Select an environment that matches the task. For creative tasks: cafes. For tasks requiring hyper-focus: minimalist, quiet rooms.

7. Batch similar tasks. Limit ramp up/down friction when shifting tasks.

8. Manage attention. Minimize the number of decisions you make (food, outfits).

9. Execute on the hardest tasks early in the day.

10. Limit emails to 2-3x/day.

11. Control your schedule. Restrict meetings to just 2 days/week.

12. Set specific goals: define detailed subtasks, timeline, and resources.

Selling Used Furniture More Than You Paid New

Moving? I’ve sold used furniture above the price I had purchased it new (a few times). Here’s how you can, too. No sales experience needed.

1. Determine sales channels available – local newsletter, FB, in-company email, and Craigslist. Post on all channels available.
2. Stage EVERYTHING. Everything must look clean and catalog ready.
3. Take numerous high-quality photos.
4. Write beautiful and accurate descriptions. Your couch isn’t brown. It’s a like new, lush, chocolate brown chaise lounge, with XYZ dimensions, and bonded leather material. The more descriptive the better. Note any damage.
5. Organize all of these items into a stylish PowerPoint presentation.
6. Post the items separately. Also, as a single “Moving Sale Blowout” using the presentation.
7. Overcharge by at least 15-30%. People always negotiate. Be reluctant for any price budges but after some resistance agree.
8. Schedule visits at the same time. Introduce scarcity. The more people the better.
9. Be friendly. Handshake and smile at everyone that comes in.
10. Have all items in one (staged) room. Let everyone see buying happening.
11. Dress to impress. Wear business casual.
12. Your “reason for selling/leaving” should always be you are upgrading your life somehow. Never appear desperate.

Rejected! B-School and AHA Moments

Wooo moment of truth! I was rejected from MIT Sloan. Here’s what I felt, did, and learned:

Felt: Initially, bummed, but not surprised. I applied Round 3, the most competitive round, to ONLY MIT. I knew what I wanted. I feel extremely grateful to have interviewed. The acceptance rates were exceptionally low this year, at 6%. Once I realized my disappointment was misdirected (ego), I felt at peace. I’m also no quitter, so if it makes sense, I’ll just keep applying ;).

Did: I was presented with a HUGE opportunity just two days prior to receiving the decision. It’s the kind of opportunity that made me question everything. I felt conflicted. After this offer, I meditated for clarity on the right path forward. I’m taking MIT’s decision as a redirection, not rejection. Sometimes big opportunities don’t align with rejections. Sometimes it takes months or years to have that AHA moment. Stay patient and keep executing.

Learned: I can always access the parts I love about MIT: the welcoming and intellectually invigorating campus and students, my friends in the program, and the open-source content. There’s LinkedIn, flights, and MIT OpenCourseWare.

Did I want it? You bet.
Disappointed? Sure.
Is it a positive redirection? Let’s find out.

Thermodynamics and Goal Setting

🤓 Energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. Let’s get smart and maximize the energy you keep vs. dissipate to your surroundings:

1. Write your goals down. Be specific. Put numbers down, with deadlines. Start with high-level categories: fitness & health, career, travel, family & friends, and personal development.

2. Map out a process to achieve these specific goals. List the small steps.

3. Be relentless and obsessed. Say no to opportunities that distract you and stay focused on what’s relevant. Put in the hard work your goals deserve, even when it sucks. Stay patient.

4. Surround yourself with people that fuel you. Cut out the negative. Meet with your special people, often, double down. Relationships are everything.

5. Get organized. I like Asana, Google Calendar, auto-filter/folders in gmail, and setting reminders. Batch similar tasks, create structure, and complete important tasks while in maximum flow. I like to put the most mentally taxing tasks in the morning, after a workout.

6. Let some “bad things happen”. Target high-value tasks. First things first. If that means a less than aesthetic report, so be it.

7. Make mistakes, get rejected, fail, and move on with greater enthusiasm!

Product Birthdays and Growth Hacking Inspo

A friend got a “happy birthday” email for her Prius turning one. Clever. I then started brainstorming my favorite marketing campaigns and growth hacking strategies. Here are 20 of them:

1. Harry’s Razors – referral program – product giveaway

2. Reformation – humanistic email campaigns and copy

3. Dropbox – referral program – storage giveaway

4. Apple – clever context shift (1000 Songs in Your Pocket)

5. LinkedIn – importing contacts

6. AirBNB – craigslist integration

7. Shazam – attention grab – holding phone to speaker

8. Hotmail – attention grab – PS I love you

9. Ice Bucket Challenge – viral offline participation

10. Dollar Shave Club – attention grab – comedy

11. YouTube – business model shift – expansion of partner program

12. Buzzfeed – attention grab – rapid testing of content

13. Tinder – shift – gamification of dating

14. Zappos – customer service – returns policy

15. Spotify – embedding widgets, freemium model

16. Slack – word of mouth virality

17. Patreon – influencer targeting, small subscription donations

18. Gmail – exclusivity

19. Shopify – freemium model, emphasis on customer

20. booking – focused spending on profitable keywords

Problem Solve Like An Engineer

TGIF! I love Fridays, and solving big problems.

🤓 Here’s how you can problem solve like an engineer:

1. Ask “why” 5 times.

2. Find the root cause.

3. Determine the fundamental truths and assumptions.

4. Measure the problem.

5. Get in the field and get hands-on. That means boots on the ground. Your answer probably isn’t on a spreadsheet.

6. Ask relevant questions to those involved in the process.

7. Admit ignorance and have a beginner’s mindset.

8. Use all of your senses (touch, hear, smell, see… ok, maybe not taste).

9. Clearly define the problem.

10. Understand the process and fundamentals before troubleshooting. Focus is key. Avoid a “spray and pray” approach.

11. Consult experts as a resource, not as the final word.

12. Eliminate the unnecessary and determine what is relevant.

13. Believe in simple solutions to seemingly complex issues.

14. Be tenacious in finding the answer.

15. Remove opinions, group-think, and subjectivity from your assessment.

16. Use facts and verify information relentlessly.

17. Take moments to step back from the details and see the big picture.

18. Note patterns and outliers.

19. Go upstream.

20. If you’re feeling “analysis paralysis”, stop and simplify. Consolidate the information.

Alan Watts

It is all perspective. We are all familiar with the optical illusion where we are shown two shapes of the same size, but one looks larger.

As humans, we are able to interpret our past and extrapolate into the future. For animals, the true reality is in the present moment.

We have the ability to live in a reality that is not yet here.

Even in the midst of pleasure, we have anxiety about time.

We are sensitive to making sure our future is ensured.

We make it more important than the present.

We spend so much time living somewhere we aren’t.

We create ladders to climb.

Then, you arrive. You’ve stopped climbing.

You feel the same you’ve always felt.

Imagine this: if you could fulfill every wish the moment you wish for it.

What would happen?

Would you dream amazing things? Indefinitely?

As time went on, wouldn’t you want to be surprised?

Would you want a little less control?

Even create dreams in which you suffer to enjoy your accomplishments?

There is no real fulfillment without delay.

Inspiration: Alan Watts

Desk Distractions

Monday Monday Monday.
I’ll write a poem about a lampshade because why the 🦆 not:

Running fingers over ridges,
thumbprint details dizzied and subdued.
Coursing over larger heights and sinks
than its own design.
Its own uniqueness equalized,
adopting the familiar asymmetry.
The downs drag and ups flutter,
absorbing the noise.

“I just got lucky.”

70% of people experience impostor syndrome.
Let’s mitigate this menacing mindset with these fun hacks:

1. Celebrate achievements often.

2. Treat failure as a learning experience.

3. Push yourself to act before you are ready.

4. Accept perfection is impossible.

5. Rely on internal vs. external validation.

6. Interpret constructive criticism professionally, not personally.

7. Realize accomplishing great things take time. Patience!

8. Avoid impossibly high standards. Instead, create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goals to improve over time.

9. Ask for assistance when needed.

10. Be OK asking “dumb” questions.

11. Mentor junior colleagues.

12. Practice just-in-time learning.

13. Separate feelings from fact.

14. Create a “go me” journal – and pack this full of accomplishments and positive feedback.

15. Accentuate the positive.

16. Reframe a negative situation (eg redirection vs. rejection).

17. Know that the feeling is normal. Acknowledge it.

18. Open up. Tell your fans.

19. Practice positive affirmations and self-talk.

20. Know you can change.

High-achieving women are especially susceptible due to accusations that their success was a side effect of preferential treatment.

Education. How can we do it better?

Here are my thoughts, assuming unlimited resources and compassion:

1. Focus on ethics, integrity, diversity, and paying it forward.

2. No grade levels. Work to your ability.

3. Collaboration > competition.

4. Focus on teams, speaking, and effective communication.

5. Activities that enhance self-awareness and mental health.

6. Reinforce creative thinking, critical reasoning, abstract reasoning, decision-making, and higher order thinking vs. memorization, rigidity, and checking boxes.

7. Actively seek and celebrate strengths. Acknowledge different intelligence types.

8. Provide hands-on active learning.

9. Interactive vs. passive (discussion over worksheets).

10. Adaptive learning for different styles. Ditch the one size fits all model.

11. Freedom of course selection/creation.

12. Mentorship.

13. Mixed age groups.

14. Focus on emerging tech and trends.

15. Learning beyond teachers – from groups, individuals, and independently.

16. Interactive exercises to identify strengths and improve on weaknesses vs. tests to assign proficiency. Prioritize learning and value over grades.

17. Smaller classrooms.

18. Ditch district-dictated barriers to entry.

19. Emphasize entrepreneurial skills.

20. A global perspective.

23 Things We Should Unlearn

Intelligence is really ignoring things that are irrelevant.
Here are 23 things we should try to unlearn.

1. Exertion is equivalent to value.

2. Failing is negative.

3. Vulnerability is a weakness.

4. All decisions must be rational.

5. You will be rewarded or recognized for effort.

6. That there is a right way and a wrong way.

7. Caring what others think.

8. Loving yourself is selfish.

9. Letting go means you’ve given up.

10. You need to postpone happiness to reach your goals.

11. You are what you do.

12. Rejection and problems are a bad thing.

13. Fitting in is important.

14. Success means making lots of money.

15. Doing well in school means you’ll be successful.

16. It’s not ok to let others down.

17. You should be happy all the time.

18. The right decision is always clear.

19. Opportunities will always present themselves naturally.

20. You need to justify yourself.

21. You’re not able to reach XYZ goal because you don’t have XYZ degree.

22. Your family knows what’s best.

23. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Using Bias to Maximize Output

We live in a world of bias – that’s not necessarily a bad thing ;).
Here’s how you can use bias to maximize your output:

Let’s talk about the serial-position effect.
This is the ability of people to remember first and last items in a series the best.

How can that help you sell a product or yourself during an interview?

An interviewer is overly affected by information presented early and late during an interview.

Not that the middle doesn’t matter, but strong, positive points should be emphasized in the beginning and end.

A late candidate who hosts a stellar interview still suffers from the “primacy effect”.

An on-time candidate who performs well during the interview, but ends with a negative remark will experience the “recency effect”.

In short, simple interviews:
Primacy > recency.

In short, complex interviews, and multi-staged interviews:
Recency > primacy.


List the most impactful points first and last in a sequence, and in your presentation. What do you want your audience to remember most?

User interface design?

When there’s a lot of information – think about how to best manage the serial position of your design. Include relevant info at fingertips and cues (recency), and emphasize key information at the beginning and end.

Conversion and Optimization

Conversion decision is a complex process! What do you optimize? Well, there are a lot of influencers…

1. Likability

2. Design

3. Branding

4. Previous experiences

5. Social proof

6. Associations

7. Price

8. Process

9. Word of mouth

10. Required effort

11. Pain points

12. Discovery path

13. Timing

14. Copywriting

15. CTA

16. UX

17. Word of mouth

18. Trust

The Simple Answer:

Segment and survey.

Ask smart questions.

For example, users who:

1. Returned, no free trial/sign-up – What brought you back? What would make you more likely to sign up?

2. Engaged free trial, but left – What made you take the free trial? What caused you to cancel? What would have made you stay?

3. Engaged free trial, stayed – What’s been most valuable to you? What successes have you had? How can we improve?

Discover objections and overcome them.


1. What makes buyers buy?

2. What makes some qualified buyers not buy?

More Tips:

1. Make pages fast.

2. Align intent with purpose.

3. Ace design.

4. Know your tools for testing and insights, and how to apply.

5. Ditch extra steps.

6. Emotional/concrete > intellectual/abstract.

7. Free works.

8. More product detail + better presentation.

9. Engaging video works.

10. Optimize independently of other’s results.

Knowledge by Moz.

Growth Marketing and Customer Acquisition

I am starting to learn more about customer acquisition and growth marketing, and I LOVE it. Here are knowledge nuggets I’ve picked up:

1. It’s a 5-stage funnel: acquisition, activation, retention, revenue, and referral.

2. Find your “Northern Star”. This metric should align with customer activation, not acquisition.

3. A large part of growth is determining how to gain a customer acquisition advantage.

4. There are three ways to gain an advantage: explore new brand strategies, explore new tactics with the same strategy, do it faster/better.

5. Start with market then product. There isn’t just product-market fit. The other 3: model-market, product-channel, channel-model. Don’t treat fits in silos.

6. Be the best at getting better. Channels, competitors, and audience needs are dynamic. Hypothesize, experiment, learn, iterate.

7. Your market and the # of customers influences your model (model-market). Find the ARPU (willingness to pay) and # of customers to hit your goal.

8. For channel-model fit: how much you charge and ARPU. Avoid “danger zone” on the ARPU/CAC spectrum, which leads to too much friction for low-cost CAC channels, and ARPUs too low to support higher channels.

9. Product-channel: products are built to fit channels, not vice versa.

Knowledge by Brain Balfour.

You Get What You Negotiate

You get what you negotiate in life.

Here’s a quick summary of negotiation techniques:

1. Stay seated. Communicate clearly. Eye contact. Stay positive. Smile. Listen & acknowledge. Build rapport/mirror. Ask open-ended questions. Use pauses. Get used to discomfort. Think win-win. Empathize. Speak slowly. Be likable. Be persistent. Treat the other like they can!

2. Present proposals in writing. Do research. Know your BATNA.

3. Always know you can come to an agreement. Be creative/solution oriented. Think high value to you, low cost to them.

4. Techniques:

White Flag: Surrender. Request negotiation.

Back to the Future: Assume issue handled. Focus on problem solved by negotiation. Nobody sells anything if there isn’t a problem.

Inquisition: Hard questions. “Have you seen enough to make a decision?”

One Thing: Product, time, stall, money. What’s key? Ignore red herring.

Selfish Child: Never make sense of other’s logic.

Walkout: Let them. It’s a tactic. They’ll come back.


If they aren’t the decision maker, discontinue.

If they apply pressure, act shocked. Repeat your offer.

If goes off-topic, bring back on-topic.

If they attempt to go back on points, say no.

If they are a mean negotiator, ask for someone else. Don’t negotiate until granted.

The Naysayers

Is it just me?

Something I’ve noticed of any doubter, critic, or naysayer is that they are all people who have given up on their own dreams, or even worse, never even tried.

Some (actually most) of these people might have previously tried doing exactly what you aim to do. Their doubt may stem from envy, insecurity, or their own self-doubt.

Know this: they’re talking to themselves, not you.

My response to these people: just because you have given up on your goal, doesn’t mean I’ll give up on mine.

Successful people won’t hold you back.

They’ll not only tell you you can do it, but they’ll show you how.
They know exactly how they achieved their success.
They know your ambitious goals can be done.
Afterall, they did it too.

I’d rather get the opinions and guidance of winners, not quitters.

Keep moving.
Stay focused.
Find the people in your life who inspire you.

I’m fired up – let’s make big things happen.

20 Reasons Why Startups Fail

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm (Churchill). Here are the top 20 reasons why startups fail, with stats:

1. No market need (42%)

2. Ran out of cash (29%)

3. Not the right team (23%)

4. Get outcompeted (19%)

5. Pricing/cost issues (18%)

6. User un-friendly product (17%)

7. Product without a business model (17%)

8. Poor marketing (14%)

9. Ignore customers (14%)

10. Product mistimed (13%)

11. Lose focus (13%)

12. Disharmony among team/investors (13%)

13. Pivot gone bad (10%)

14. Lack passion (9%)

15. Failed geographical expansion (9%)

16. No financing/investor interest (8%)

17. Legal challenges (8%)

18. Didn’t use network (8%)

19. Burn out (8%)

20. Failure to pivot (7%)

Data collected by CB Insights after analyzing 101 startup failure post-mortems.
I want to add another three to the list – lack of mentorship, prematurely scaling, and overfunding.

70% of tech startups fail.
97% of consumer hardware startups fail.
170+ US companies classified as unicorns.
~6.7 years on average to reach unicorn status.
0.2% of firms receive VC funding.
~50% of entrepreneurial IPOs are venture backed.
Top 2% of VC firms generate 98% of the returns.
CA, MA, NY account for 84% of total AUM.
970 venture firms, 1722 funds in the US.

Handle Conflict With Class

How do you handle conflict with class? I can be fairly outspoken, but I’ve never been a fan of conflict. Here are a few hacks that I have learned over the years:

1. Always respond in a cool, calm, and collected way. Keep your brand in mind.

2. Picture yourself as a 3rd party in the conflict before responding.

3. Demonstrate empathy. Consider the other person’s viewpoint.

4. Focus on finding a solution vs. pointing out what’s wrong. Reframe the conversation in a positive way.

5. Listen. Demonstrate listening by nodding, rephrasing what you just heard, and not interrupting.

6. If the person is toxic, re-evaluate the role this person plays in your life, and find ways to limit contact immediately.

7. If this person has crossed a definite line, involve higher-ups.

8. Create and enforce boundaries. People treat you the way you allow them to treat you. When something isn’t working for you – speak up. Communication is key.

9. Know that only you are in control of your response to any situation.

10. Give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the other person is having a bad day, lacks social grace, or perhaps you misinterpreted the other person (most common with emails/texts).

11. Ignore the haters – critics are a sign of success.

Diversity Drives Innovation

Diversity drives innovation, bolsters profits, eliminates blind spots, and leads to creative problem-solving. There are a number of ways you can increase diversity in your organization.

Let’s explore how, starting with the job postings:

1. The wording of job postings attracts or repels female candidates. Eliminate all gender bias.

2. Put more qualifications under “preferred” vs. “required”.

3. Avoid listing years of qualified experience required. Instead, list the expertise needed, and available opportunities.

4. Select job neutral titles.

5. Mention explicitly that you are an equal opportunity employer.

6. Emphasize mentorship, training, inclusion groups, conference opportunities, education programs, merit-based promotions, flexible schedule, etc.

7. Hire, promote, and retain more women and minorities to attract more women and minorities.

8. Make diversity a core value and redefine “cultural fit”. Develop a women and minority friendly corporate page/brand.

9. Demonstrate your company is a great place to work.

10. Get involved. Sponsor organizations that promote women and minorities.

11. Don’t lower your standards, change them. Modify job descriptions to be more inviting.

Employers should seize the opportunity to hire diverse talent.

The Art of Pivoting and Living Passionately

I’ve made some fun and rewarding pivots in my career.
Let’s explore how you can too:

1. Identify your passions.
a. What subjects do you pick up on quickly/effortlessly?
b. When do you feel most energized?
c. Where do you focus your attention almost daily?

2. Assess your strengths.
a. Ask friends/family/colleagues for input.
b. What do you know to be your strengths?

3. Examine your reasons.
a. Why do you do what you do?
b. Are you running away or running toward?

4. Describe your ideal position.
a. No boundaries. Get creative. Be specific.
b. What are your non-negotiables?
c. What are you flexible on?

5. Determine what it will take.
a. Create a plan. Learn new skills. Do what is necessary.
b. Think of ways to remove barriers.
c. Identify your network, resources, transferable skills, and opportunities.
d. Expand those opportunities in a BIG way by taking massive action.
e. Find ways to incorporate your passions immediately.

Recognize that you have more than one opportunity to pursue what you want to do.

Do not let your experiences and self-defined limitations restrict your goals.

Only you can define the career you want to pursue and do what is necessary to achieve that career.

Let’s get focused, plan, and take action ;)!

Great Founder Checklist

I found this “Great Founder Checklist” via Y Combinator’s Investor School:

How many do you meet?

A great founder:

1. Has clear and concise communication, demonstrating a depth of understanding and clarity of thought.

2. Moves fast!

3. Accomplishes a lot with a little.
How much can you get done with no money?

4. Has an idea that is implausibly ambitious, or seemingly frivolous. If it’s somewhere in the middle, there’s probably a lot of competition. The best investments aren’t obvious.

5. Is a talent magnet. The best want to work with the best.

6. Makes something people want. Clearly a good sign :).

7. Is determined and committed. Start-ups are hard and unpleasant, if you’re not determined, you will probably give up. What to watch out for: are they hedging their bets? What is their plan B? If so – avoid. Have they made mistakes in their life? Be nervous about “perfect” people who have never failed. Founders cannot be scared of failure!

Credit to angel investor, Paul Buchheit.

The Productivity Paradox

Today, I’m going to encourage you to simultaneously do LESS AND MORE.
Let’s debunk this paradox:

Some generally accepted truths:
1. Everything has an opportunity cost.
2. You’re given 24 hours in a day (ignoring time dilation).

The wrong questions:
1. Should I do less?
2. Should I do more?

The right questions:
1. How is my time being spent?
2. How should that time be best utilized?
3. How do I become more deliberate with my time?

The solutions:
1. Identify your goal. Adjust as needed.
2. Become relentlessly OBSESSED with meeting that goal.
3. Manage your priorities. Cut tasks that are not urgent/important immediately. Set strict boundaries with these tasks! They’re holding you back.
4. Identify and execute on the most high-value tasks for your targeted goal, TODAY. Not tomorrow or 2 years from now.
5. Do MORE of what is high value and LESS (not at all) what is low value.

The value:
1. You get where you’re going, quickly!
2. Fulfilling work and reaching goals is a tremendous energy boost! It snowballs, and you continuously accomplish more.
3. Results > being busy. Being busy for the sake of being busy or checking off a list gets you nowhere.

The final takeaway:
Simultaneously do less and more.
The #productivityparadox

Inspirations: Grant Cardone, George Peklaris, Tim Ferris

Super-STAR Interview

I’ve made a lot of interview mistakes early in my career ;).
Here’s an easy hack that has landed me offers:

It’s called the STAR method.





This is a great framework to follow for behavioural-based interviews.
Note: other types of interviews require a different approach.

Situation – describe the situation. Be specific. Give enough detail for anyone to understand. Emphasize the PROBLEM you helped solve. Make the interviewer feel the pain point!

Task – answer: what was your goal? What problem did you have to fix?

Action – describe what specific action you took to address the situation and achieve your goal. Focus on YOUR specific contributions. Respond with “I” not “we”.

Result – answer: so what? Describe the outcome! Don’t be shy about emphasizing your BIG RESULTS. The interview is the time to show-off – I mean it. They want to hire you to do the same BIG RESULTS for them!

Be a super STAR :).

Pro Tip:

Research the style of interview (technical, behavioural, case-study, etc) and types of questions you will be asked before the interview.

You can find this out by asking people within the company (NETWORKING), or looking it up on Glassdoor or on forums. Prepare!

⚡️ Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! ⚡️

Here’s how you can drive change, in 8 steps:

AKA preparing and accepting change

1. Establish a sense of urgency (motivation).
2. Build the guiding teams.
3. Create a clear change vision
4. Communicate the vision.

AKA implementation

5. Empower broad-based action (eliminate obstacles).
6. Generate short-term wins.
7. Consolidate gains to produce more change (focus on the success and build on gains).

AKA reinforcing and stabilizing change

8. Anchor change (creating policies, monitoring and adjusting in response to problems, and anchoring new approaches).

Inspiration: Lewin’s and Kotter’s principles of change management within corporations

>>>Who else is a Bowie fan?


To land your dream job, you need to STAND OUT.

So, let’s get realllyyyy creative…

1. CANVA – Start here.

Canva is a FREE graphic design site with amazing resume templates (as well as templates for social media, flyers, etc).

Match your design with the company (color, look).

2. PROFESSIONAL PROFILE – A ~3 line summary.

Be customer-focused.

1. Who you are.
2. Your value prop.
3. Your alignment with job/company.
4. Your project (read more).

Dissect the job description. Tailor your skills, experiences, and profile to the keywords, requirements, and values.

Apply to just 3-5 jobs at a time. This takes work.

Be focused!

3. PITCH A PROJECT – Solve a problem BEFORE you start!

A friend introduced me to this amazing concept and recommended using Adobe Spark to create a visual story.

Create a custom page for the target company, and include a link to this page in your resume.

1. More about you.
2. Your fit and values (align with the company).
3. A project you propose (and how you will implement).

Make sure this solves a real problem in the organization.
Do your research (ask/network).
Be creative!

4. NETWORK – Send your visual story to someone within the company. Ask for intros.

In your message: reference the job, who you are (establish credibility), and project.

5 Years Later

I loved being a student.
Here is some hindsight 5 years after graduating:

I should have:

1. Developed my programming/software skills. Specifically, MATLAB, Python, AutoCAD, VBA, and SolidWorks.

2. Made it a priority to meet people outside of engineering. Universities are the most convenient spots to meet MANY talented people (biz, law, humanities, etc).

3. Prioritized my health! Sure, your GPA is important, but value your health and happiness over an extra 0.3 ;). You are more than your GPA.

4. Worked on soft skills, especially public speaking and sales.

5. Took classes outside of engineering – especially business!

6. Started entrepreneurial activities early! There are SO MANY resources on campus now, from non-dilutive funding to legal guidance.

7. Been more confident in my technical abilities, and more actively pursued the things I REALLY wanted.

8. Took time to develop my interests outside of school vs. resume building.

9. Learned personal finance (retirement, taxes, loan repayment, credit cards, and budgeting).

10. Studied and aced the GRE. The GRE works for both grad and b-school, and scores are good for 5 years. For the engineers, also take the FE Exam.

Love Your Commute

The average LA driver spends 104 hours per year in traffic!
Let’s love our driving experience starting TODAY:

1. OVERDRIVE: a FREE audiobook app that connects to your local public library.

You have unlimited access to nearly 50,000 audiobooks (and over 250k ebooks). And that’s just in the LA public library.

Between the no limits and $0 price tag, I like this app way better than Audible. Actually, it’s my fave app.

You just need a library card. Multiple library cards connect you to multiple libraries.

I am currently re-listening to The Effective Executive by Drucker.

2. PODCASTS: the classic go-to when I want to learn something quickly.

Here are some of my faves:
The Tim Ferriss Show
Angel The Podcast
This Week in Startups
TED Talks Daily
The James Altucher Show
a16z Podcast
Masters of Scale
The Duolingo Spanish Podcast

And new ones I’ll be exploring this month:
Waking Up with Sam Harris

3. TED TALKS: yes, there’s an app for that.

4. POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS: I play these straight from YouTube. You’ll be glowing after. Love yourself.


My fave stations:

Lana Del Rey
Kendrick Lamar
Glass Animals
Tame Impala
Bon Iver

Also play these knowledge nuggets while cleaning, getting ready, and exercising.

>>>What are your faves?

Teddy Roosevelt

👌🏻🤓 A quote from Teddy Roosevelt to kick-off this awesome week:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

🧐 This quote also has one of the longest sentences I’ve ever seen.

Credit to George Peklaris for the beautiful reminder.

#AwesomeWeek #GreatQuote #LongSentences

LinkedIn Ninja Tips

Become a LinkedIn ninja with these tips:

1. PHOTO: high-res, professional, well-lit, from shoulders to top of the head, smile, front-facing, minor editing.

2. BACKGROUND IMAGE: Cityscape, professional event, or with an influencer.

3. HEADLINE: Universally understood, use | to separate, highlight current position(s). May include mission. eg: “Process Engineer at Chevron | Licensed Professional Engineer | Six Sigma Black Belt”.

If unemployed, don’t write so. Use a headline that highlights your past achievements and future direction.

4. SUMMARY: Show what you do, what motivates you, and where you are heading. 1st or 3rd person acceptable. Avoid contractions/slang/jargon. Make sure this section is well-written and professional. Attach media – websites, articles, podcasts. Have a strong hook. Have a call-to-action – eg: “Reach out, I’d love to meet you.”

5. URL: Select a URL with your first and last name.

6. CAREER INTERESTS: Turn “on” if job hunting.

7. EXPERIENCE: Summaries or bullet points. Use power words, describe (quantitative results), list most impressive point first, separate out promotions, add extracurricular activity.

8. THE REST: Fill all sections!


10. SEO: Include keywords from the job descriptions you want.


The 10-Step Resume

🤓 Write a resume that gets the interview and offer letter in 10 steps:

Note: the caps are the headers, listed in order.

1. Single-page, >10 pt font, ~0.5″ margins, reverse chronological order.

2. Include city, LinkedIn, professional email, #, site, portfolio, GitHub (if available).

3. OBJECTIVE: To obtain a (full-time/part-time/internship) position as a (role) at (company) in (location). Add OBJECTIVE if submitting in person, otherwise optional.



4. EDUCATION: University, GPA (if >3.0), grad year, degree(s), minor(s). No coursework.

5. WORK AND LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: Separate promotions. Consolidate/remove job-hopping. Highlight leadership, big projects, and results.

Bullet points: (power word) (description) that/to (quantitative result). Single line.

Ex: Led XYZ project that generated over $ABC per year in revenue.

Include extracurricular activities here.

6. CERTIFICATIONS AND SKILLS: Think software, hardware, languages, technical, and leadership skills.

7. ACCOMPLISHMENTS, AWARDS, AND HONORS: Scholarships, patents, competitions etc.

8. Consistent formatting and verb tenses. Aesthetic/flush design.

9. No grammar/spelling errors, abbreviations, jargon.

10. Remove references available upon request.

Excel Magic

Here’s a list of Excel functions that are sure to rock your spreadsheet game:

ABS – absolute value
AVERAGEIFS – mean if multiple criteria are met
CELL – info about formatting/location/contents
CHOOSE – chooses value from list of values
COLUMN – column number
CONCATENATE – join several cells
CONVERT – converts a number from one measurement to another (eg, grams to lbs)
COUNT – counts qty in a list
COUNTIFS – counts if meets multiple criteria
DATEDIF – calcs # of days, months, years between two dates
DAYS – returns # of days between two dates
FACT – factorial
FORMULATEXT – text for formula of a cell
GETPIVOTDATA – returns data stored in pivot table
HLOOKUP – retrieve data from row
IF – if/else statements
IFS – check multiple criteria for if/else
INDEX – lookup value in column/row
LARGE – returns nth largest value
LOG – logarithm
LOOKUP – lookup value in an array
LOWER – convert to lowercase
MATCH – lookup matching value (use INDEX + MATCH for some serious Excel Magic ;D)
MAX/MIN – max #/min #
MOD – remainder from division
MODE – mode
NOT – reverses argument logic
PI – pi (yum)
ROUND – rounds
SQRT – square root
STDEV – standard deviation
SUBSTITUTE – replace text
SUMIFS – adds cells if meets multiple criteria
TRANSPOSE – transposes array
TRIM – removes spaces from text
VLOOKUP – lookup value from column

>>>What’s your favorite function?

#excelmagic #🤓 #nerdypost

Choosing a Web Host

If you run your own site, you’ve probably heard of Bluehost, Dreamhost, 1&1, GoDaddy, HostGator, etc. I’ve recently switched over to this new player in the market after some research…

First, what my package includes:
1. Optimized for WordPress.
2. FAR better customer support – targeted support from professionals, no scripts/generic responses.
(I’ve had some frustrating, time-consuming horror stories with other hosts.)
3. The servers are NOT SHARED. That means faster load times.
5. Auto back-ups.
6. Fast hardware.
7. Virus prevention and enhanced data security.
8. Site maintenance and updates.

They’re called HectoFox.

I was able to talk them into giving me a free (quick and painless) migration (normally $150+).
They also accepted my price-match request. More features, same $.

Try it now – they’ll prob do the same for you.

I love bargain hunting ;).


Problem Solve Like Elon Musk

Elon Musk is a huge fan of First Principles Thinking.
Here is how you can problem solve like Elon:

1. Ignore the trend.

2. Do not think by analogy. For example, the horse-drawn carriage. If we thought by analogy, we’d just have a more advanced carriage vs. a car.

3. Boil the problem down to its fundamental truths/assumptions. How you define the problem is the most important step. Question your current assumptions – break these down further. Be critical. Otherwise, junk in, junk out!

4. Find a new direction. Create your solution based on these fundamental truths as your foundation. Imagine, iterate, and reason different outcomes and possibilities. This is rethinking the problem from the ground up.

5. Be exploratory and non-linear. Ask lots of questions (“why” 5x over). Nothing is off-bounds as long as the fundamental truths remain satisfied.

6. Know that this may not feel like a natural way of thinking first, and the process is slow and thorough. Fight any discomfort, cognitive biases, heuristics (mental shortcuts), or impatience when thinking in this way.

7. An example: you have a match, candle, and two steel rings. How would you join the two rings using only the candle and the match?

The fundamentals: the candle is made up of the wick (or, EHEM, string) and wax.


My MEGA RESOURCES are a collection of valuable, high-quality, and comprehensive resources so you can hack a number of goals, such as acing the GMAT, becoming business-savvy, or learning all about cryptocurrency. I create/co-create these resources, and share them here on my site.

MBA SUMMARIES MEGA RESOURCES: A MEGA collection of concise, high-quality summaries of over 130 of the best business books, including The Intelligent Investor, The Effective Executive, Thinking Fast and Slow, Zero to One, The Lean Startup, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, The Tipping Point, Pitch Anything, Venture Deals, Getting Results the Agile Way, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Never Eat Alone, and 119 more. Credit to Lucas Miller, author of Beyond Brilliance.

MEGA GMAT RESOURCES FOLDER: A MEGA folder of GMAT resources a la Google Drive. Includes: video tutorials, full-length exams, thousands of practice problems and solutions in each category (SC, RC, VR, AWA, PS, DS, IR), ebooks, infographics, and flashcards.

MEGA CRYPTO RESOURCES FOLDER: A MEGA resources folder to get you started in cryptocurrency. Includes: an ebook, live trend information, crypto day trading primer, Twitter influencer list, and news updates to guide your investment decisions and receive 24/7 support. Credit to Michael Peres, software engineer and entrepreneur, and Sean Keegan, CEO of Digital Asset Strategies.

GMAT Test Tips

I took the GMAT yesterday. PHEW.
Here are some test-day tips I strongly recommend:

1. If you’re going to study the day of the exam (not recommended), review material you are very familiar with for a confidence boost.

2. Pay attention to timing! Pacing is VITAL. You should be timing yourself during EVERY practice exam/problem set.

3. Take as many timed, full-length practice exams as possible. Build up your test-taking endurance.

4. Identify and focus on your weak areas early. Take two practice exams before you start your study plan.

5. The AWA and IR sections do not count toward your score. It’s important to not do poorly on these sections, but it is far more important to focus more on the verbal and quant sections.

6. Find what fits your learning style best! Personally, I liked forums and webinars. I strongly recommend GMAT Club and e-GMAT for these resources.

7. Ditch the expensive tutor. There are lots of free resources out there. Be resourceful.

8. Know that the GMAT is a VERY learnable exam. Scored a 500? Know that a 700+ is in your reach with enough practice.

9. Study at least 30-60 minutes a day! Can’t? Try 10 min during lunch. Something is better than nothing! 100 hours of total study time is recommended for this exam.

Good luck! 😉

Struggles and Happy Endings

I don’t always get what I want, and that’s a good thing.
Here are some harsh realities I’ve faced, which led to very happy endings:

I was denied a return offer from my first two internships.
This led to a much higher paying job that built the skillset I rely on today.

I have been burned (a few times).
This led me to think more critically about which opportunities I pursue. It also taught me to trust my gut and to stand up for myself and others.

I have been rejected/not even considered for countless jobs.
This led me to create my own path and opportunities. I’m living the lifestyle I want, and I’m very happy.

I was rejected from every entry-level job in high school.
This led me to work with start-ups, enhancing SEO and writing grants. These skills I still use today.

I was rejected by all of the b-schools I applied to in 2015.
This led me to work harder. Hindsight, I wasn’t ready. I wouldn’t have capitalized on the right opportunities. It saved me $225k.

I’ve missed countless events to work/study, even my birthday.
This led me to find my true friends. The great ones are still here.

I was bullied as a kid.
A tremendous blessing in disguise. It developed empathy and resilience.

I’ve been heartbroken.
They weren’t the right fit anyway ;).

I’ve been rejected a lot, as you can see.
Take rejection as a redirection.

I love getting older.

Today is my birthday.

I love getting older. I’ll tell you why.

Each passing year:

I can look back and say that I have come a long way, and learned A LOT.

My friendships grow deeper and stronger.

I am more confident and happy.

I meet many amazing, brilliant, driven, and inspiring people.

I am stronger.

My work becomes more fulfilling, purposeful, and focused.

I discover more about myself and others.

I am able to “connect the dots” in new ways.

My gratitude and appreciation increases.

The little things become more fascinating.

I realize I am surrounded by so much positivity.

I feel more blessed.

Any challenge becomes much easier to conquer.

I appreciate the beauty in a simple life.

I have a feeling this will be another great year. 🙂

How to Connect with ANYONE

My favorite LinkedIn feature is having the ability to learn from ANYONE on the platform. Here is how you can schedule an informational interview:

1. Identify your specific goal. Search 2nd-degree connections in your network that can help you meet this goal.

2. Read through their LinkedIn profile thoroughly. Note achievements, current projects, and common interests.

3. Determine a specific call to action relevant to this individual and your goal.

4. Ask for an intro or send a request with a note. Warm intros preferred.

5. Carefully craft your note before sending.

An example:

“Hi Ariana,

I’m a recent grad from X and passionate about Y! It looks like you are highly skilled at this, and I was wondering if you had any advice. I noticed you did Z, so I thought I’d reach out!

My background is in X, and I’ve worked for Y and Z. I’ve just begun my journey, and any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks for your time and go Bruins!



6. Schedule a 30 min call! Prepare your talking points beforehand, and brainstorm ways to also help them achieve their goals. Think win-win.

7. Send a thank you note for their time and guidance.

8. Repeat weekly ;).

Go get ’em!

bootup bootcamp

I’ve created a 10-part bootcamp. This is an online personal and professional development series with nearly 1,000 slides of content.

The bootcamp is for all sorts of folks. Mainly, senior-level high school students, all university students, entry-level professionals and career changers. I recommend bootcamp Parts 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 for students, and bootcamp Parts 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, and 10 for working professionals and new graduates.

Table of Contents:
Part 1: Mastering LinkedIn
Part 2: Crafting a Winning Resume
Part 3: Leading Hyper-Productive Meetings
Part 4: The Proactive Professional
Part 5: Networking Like a Pro and Seizing Opportunities
Part 6: Perfecting the Elevator Pitch and Marketing Yourself
Part 7: Acing the Interview
Part 8: Negotiations and Raises
Part 9: The Performance Review
Part 10: New Territories: Switching Career Paths

Courage Over Confidence

Courage means being afraid, but acting anyway. 😉

Here are 7 ways you can be more courageous and start something new:

1. Know that just the beginning is the scary part.

2. Nervous energy is, well, ENERGY! Channel that energy to help you power through and conquer!

For example – if you’re nervous before a speech (think rapid heartbeats and trembling) – tell yourself it’s excitement!

Our reaction to anxiety and excitement are physiologically very similar. You can pick how you choose to interpret and express it!

3. Confidence is an outcome. Courage is all you need to get started, and far more important.

4. Practice positive self-talk and affirmations. Celebrate your wins and focus on the positive results.

5. Get started by accomplishing a small, unintimidating task.

If you’re still having trouble getting started – maybe your first step is too big! Make it smaller.

Less talking, more action! Start making moves – right after this post!

6. Know that courage is learnable! Try something new each day to explore and test boundaries.

It can be as small as ordering something experimental off the menu, or listening to a podcast on something you know nothing about.

7. Be clear about what you want, and be absolutely relentless in pursuing that goal. Visualize your success!


I’ve Hacked Applying to Business School

Here are a few tips to save you time and $:

1. Undergrads qualify for a $100 discount off the #GMAT exam. Scores are good for 5 years.

2. For women and minorities, I strongly recommend programs like Forté Foundation, MLT, and The Consortium. The networking and resources through these programs are ACE.

Forté provides app fee waivers for their partner schools, including MIT Sloan School of Management, Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management, INSEAD, and The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

If you apply to two or more schools, the program pays for itself ($500). I’m currently going through the Forté program now and it is well worth it!

3. There are tons and tons of free resources for the GMAT. You don’t need to pay serious $ for a tutor, online packages, and books.

I think you can score a 700+ for FREE.

Get access to my mega-folder of FREE GMAT resources (packed with thousands of practice problems, webinars, eBooks, practice exams, and more) by subscribing to my newsletter. The Mega-GMAT Resources folder lives here.

4. ApplicantLab completely eliminates the need for a b-school consultant. I’m a huge fan of this disruptive and super affordable resource to help complete your applications. I’m currently using the software to complete my own applications.

Yes, they have a free trial. Test it out :).

I’ve negotiated a promo code with ApplicantLab to pass on more savings to you.

Enter this code in the “Where did you hear about us?” section.

Favorite Reads

Looking for your next great read? 🤓

Here are some of my favorite books:

Black Swan by Taleb

Antifragile by Taleb

Fooled by Randomness by Taleb

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman

The Organized Mind by Levitin

Angel by Calacanis

Outliers by Gladwell

The Tipping Point by Gladwell

Venture Deals by Feld

Elon Musk by Vance

Awaken the Giant Within by Robbins

D is for Digital by Kernighan

Stick With It by Young

Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Feynman

Four Hour Work Week by Ferriss

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Ries

The Intelligent Investor by Graham

Freakonomics by Dubner and Levitt

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie

Never Split the Difference by Voss

Zero to One by Thiel

The Untethered Soul by Singer

I don’t know WTF I’m doing, but I do it anyway.

You can bet I’ve learned a few things.

1. Ruffle feathers! I mean it.
Don’t be afraid to be challenging, especially the newbies.
You have fresh eyes. That gives you a huge advantage.
You may upset a few people, but they’ll get over it once they see results. 😉
2. You can’t know it all. Be resourceful.
Find people who know more than you.
People are willing to help more than you know. Ask!
3. Understand the problem (if there is one) and process BEFORE developing solutions.
4. Try to explain what you know and do simply.
If you can’t, go back to the fundamentals.
5. Find people in other industries and pick their brains!
6. Establish credibility as early as possible and act like you belong.
7. Make promises that scare you!
You’ll be held accountable and accomplish great things.
8. Have a beginner’s mindset.
Ask those questions that get the other person talking.
Keep asking WHY.
9. When you find problems, mention solutions.
10. Get a mentor, ASAP. EHEM students!

Why Engineers Thrive in Business Roles

Musk. Zuckerberg. Bezos. Gates. Page. Cook. Nadella. Barra.

The best & biggest business leaders are engineers.

Why put engineers in biz roles?

✔️Less long-term handholding. A holistic perspective of how your business works improve key technical decisions.

✔️Continuous learning and knowledge sharing, leading to more opportunity to grow.

✔️Enhance employee communication skills. If we can learn differential equations, we can learn how to pitch and sell. 😉

✔️Better client interaction. Do you have a technical product or audience? Probably.

✔️Utilize highly analytical, creative, and task-oriented skills. We problem solve, build & implement.

✔️Introduce diversity of thought, leading to innovation.

✔️We dominate automation, efficiency, and attention to detail. It’s in our blood. We want to maximize (or minimize) everything, and have it work by itself.

✔️We are great with numbers, computers, and large datasets. Let’s help you find some key industry trends to make some serious $!

✔️Develop your next crop of top leaders – be like the best.

Engineering Student Tips

Here are some valuable lessons learned for engineering students:

✔️Network with people outside of your class.
Universities are the most convenient spots to meet MANY talented people (biz, law, humanities, etc).

✔️Learn personal finance ASAP.
That means navigating your retirement accounts, taxes, loan repayment, credit cards, and budgeting.
Ask knowledgeable people, do research, and take free online courses (Khan Academy, Coursera).

✔️Be computer savvy. Learn Python or MATLAB and know excel like a beast.

✔️Know useful engineering programs. Look at job postings in your field and see what they’re after (eg SolidWorks, ANSYS).

✔️Be comfortable public speaking. Try Toastmasters.

✔️Extracurriculars (eg student orgs) are one of the best ways to build your soft skills, network, and land a job. It is now essential to be competitive.

✔️Take the FE exam (step 1 to PE licensure). It’s a LOT easier when the fundamentals are fresh!
The pass rates are high, it’s a highly marketable qualification, and the exam is cheap.

✔️Most university recruiting happens fall/early winter.
EHEM freshmen! Score your 1st internship early.