The Zone of Sustainable Commitment

I was first recommended the book “Leadership and Self-Deception” from Stewart Butterfield during Y Combinator Growth program late last year. I finally got the chance to open the book recently and the story resonated so much that I recommended this book to our entire company.

A high-level summary might go like this: if you get into self-betrayal, you go “in the box” where your perspective of the world starts to distort in your favor. By self-justifying, you find ways to blame others, while inflating your own virtue.

The result is making your relationship worse and inviting others into the box along the way, starting a vicious cycle. Below diagram shows the inside of Bud’s mind, one of the characters in the book. Bud’s baby son David wakes up in the middle of night. The diagram shows what goes through Bud’s mind as he thinks about whether to get up and tend to David or not, while his wife Nancy is asleep besides him.

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Situational Leadership Matrix (Simplified version)

After managing different teams of various background and scale over the years, I’ve always thought the question “what is your leadership style?” is almost a trick question. An executive from another company once shared with me a framework he learned at one of the leadership classes he took at Harvard.

It seems like the original version of Situational Leadership is a bit more complex, but the simplified version he shared made more sense to me and felt more applicable to everyday managers.

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A Leadership Lesson from Stand-up Comedies

I enjoy watching stand-up comedies. People like Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Mike Birbiglia, Trevor Noah, Ryan Hamilton, John Mulaney comes to mind. I’ve been watching the shows to learn English (great teachers, I know) and pick up some useful dialog patterns to use during sales calls.

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I think there’s something magical about stand-up comedies. There’s a great balancing act of psychology how comedians connect with the audience. The comedian captures the audience, puts them in a situation, then does something completely unexpected or extreme that gives catharsis to the audience, letting them play a role that will not likely happen in their own life, things they will not likely do or say. And it creates a seemingly spontaneous reaction in a form of a laughter to so many diverse people in the room, which has been carefully planned and perfected by the comedian.

We all know this, because even though comedies are hard to create, are easy to enjoy.

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The Evening with Michael Moritz

At Y Combinator‘s Tuesday dinner event last Tuesday (2/23/2016), Michael Moritz came for a talk. It was deeply inspiring to see him in person, but it was even more energizing to see him still so ‘obsessed’ about his work at Sequoia Capital.

Here’s a brief excerpt from his talk:

That’s what, at Sequoia, we’ve always been focused on: How do we maintain a consistent level of exceptional performance? Most entities, most organizations are capable of doing it through a year, or five years, maybe ten years. Very few are able to do it over multiple decades. And I’m not saying that we’re exemplary, but we’ve worked really, really hard on trying to perform at an extremely high level.

How have we done it? It all sounds very, very mundane. You can read a book about the principles of high performance, or great leadership, and it’ll all sound very straightforward and rudimentary. The difficulty is doing it every day, doing it every week, month, quarter, year, and keeping that beat up.

Which is part of the reason we don’t have all sorts of lucite blocks commemorating this or that anniversary of some company hanging around the office at Sequoia: Because all of that is yesterday, and it’s irrelevant to the future.

Read (or listen to) the rest of the conversation here at The Macro.

VISAs for International Founders Doing Startups in U.S.

Hello there foreigners and immigrants. Yeah that’s you (and me).

Today, I’m going to save you few bucks from expensive consulting fees with the immigration lawyers. Sadly, below does not cover the details, but will give you an idea of which route you can take.

There are five VISA types for international founders/entrepreneurs entering the U.S.: L1, E2, EB5, H1B, O

Let’s go through each of them briefly below:

1. L1

  1. For whom? Expats(execs, managers, specialists) working at US Entity (with minimum of 1 year employment history at the foreign company)
  2. Duration & Extension 3 yrs + 3 yrs (+ 1 yr for execs/managers) (total 6 ~ 7 yrs max)
  3. Difficulty Depends on the company (must show that it will survive, easier with $1M+ previous funding)
  4. Quota Any time (get the result in 15 days after filing using premium processing)
  5. Family/Spouse can work? Yes
  6. Greencard Yes

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8 ways to spot a truly exceptional employee

8 ways to spot a truly exceptional employee

Lecture 20 – Later-stage Advice (Sam Altman)

Sam caps off the How to Start a Startup series with things you should ignore when you start, but become important a year in. Thanks for watching How to Start a Startup. Hope you learned a ton!