Guylaine

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On November 24, 2015, Guylaine commented on How NOT to fail. :

Thanks Karthik for your post
While I believe that not all failures are predictable and can be anticipated, I tend to agree with you that there are steps entrepreneurs can take to mitigate challenges and failures.
One more insight I would add is “learn from other entrepreneurs’ mistakes”. Entrepreneurs tend to get advice and best practices from others who successful founded and run their businesses. However one should not only learn from successful founders but also from unsuccessful ones. When looking at their competitive landscape, entrepreneurs should identify other startups with similar business model that failed and try to understand the reasons for their failures and the lessons that can be applicable to their own startup.

On November 24, 2015, Guylaine commented on Fail Horribly or Gracefully? Your call! :

Good post Arnold!
I agree with your four moves to avoid failing miserably. One more move that I would add to your list is: “Blaming other people or external factors for your failure”.
Entrepreneurs tend to attribute successes for internal factors and failures for external ones, that are not within their control. Although luck has a lot to do with an entrepreneur’s success, one very important step an entrepreneur should take is reflect on what he or she did wrong and could have done differently and then share those thoughts with their employees, investors and family. Although this is much easier said than done, taking responsibility for their actions and being transparent about it help entrepreneurs earn respect, trust and credibility from their stakeholders, which would be willing to work with them again in the future.

On November 24, 2015, Guylaine commented on What Do You Mean By Success? :

Thanks for your post Amelia,
I agree with you that each entrepreneur should have his / her own definition of success. Defining metrics and assessing your success against those does not sound very hard; however I don’t think it’s black and white in real life. On top of defining metrics, I think entrepreneurs should also prioritize what they care the most about, in their definition of success. Tough decision will include compromises, whether personally, financially or professionally and trying to draw the line in those three areas is the most difficult part. Also, those metrics are not very easy to measure. Except for the financial metrics that are straightforward, it’s hard to measure employees satisfaction or investors’ willingness to invest in me in the future. In some cases, investors are not fully aligned with the decisions among themselves. Trying to define quantifiable metrics makes it easier for founders to assess their success or failure.

On November 3, 2015, Guylaine commented on Your culture sucks. But that’s actually good! :

Brian, found this post very interesting.
I partly agree with you on the point that employees should not expect the perks that Google and Facebook provide when joining a company. Also, those perks are not the only factor that ensure high productivity or performance. As you mentioned, Steve jobs, Bill Gates and even Andy Grove promoted frugality and were very strict with their employees but were able to build empires out of their companies.
However, I would be very interested to compare the employees retention and churn at Apple, Microsoft and Intel at the time compared to Google and Facebook today. I would assume that there is a high correlation between employees satisfaction (which is driven by their satisfaction with the work but also with the perks they get) and employees retention. I also assume that companies like Google and Facebook are better able to attract and retain the best talent mainly thanks to their great culture

To give a concrete example, I interned this summer at Google while my friend interned at Amazon. Both companies have great brand name and are very successful. We both had very challenging projects to work on this summer. However, after my internship I realized the benefits of the support system that Google provided me to ensure that I was able to deliver my project. The support system includes the people and mentors that were available to help me as well as the perks that made my life so easier (having dinner in the office, being able to take breaks and disconnect while still being at the office). In contrast, on top of her project obligations, my friend had to deal with a very frugal culture, and a limited support system. Although her summer was rewarding, she decided not to go back to Amazon for a full-time offer.
This is not a general rule, and other people may have had different experiences in each of those organization. But this is one of many examples that shows that a “great” company culture can help better attract and retain the best talent.

On September 29, 2015, Guylaine commented on The pitfalls of hiring based on conventional wisdom :

Interesting post Sarah!
This topic is extremely important as hiring decisions are very critical and directly contribute to the growth and success of any business.
I think that when looking at candidates to hire, one should try to find the best balance of soft skills and hard skills. The hiring decision first depends on the stage of the company. For example, when starting a new business, founders should find people with the right skills to build and scale the business. At this point, hard skills are critical and are needed right away (i.e. If you need a finance person, you need him to start working on day one and there is no time to learn and develop those skills). In a more established firm, personality and soft skills are extremely valuable and might be the priority. This ensures that a person will thrive in a team environment and will help the company sustain its growth effectively. Soft vs. hard skills also depend on the role that is being considered and the tasks involved. For example, when hiring someone for a back-office, IT role with minimal team collaboration, a recruiter should prioritize hard skills since what is expected from the person is only to deliver on his daily tasks effectively with minimal mistakes. On the other hand, if you’re hiring a salesperson, you want to make sure that the person has the right soft skills and personality required to interact with other people, sell products and build long-lasting relationships.

On September 29, 2015, Guylaine commented on Time to Be Stupid :

Interesting post and topic!
It is great to have a trusted network of family, friends and mentors to run ideas by and get advice. You can be confident that those people will have your best interests in mind when giving you recommendations. However, my approach would be a bit different in the sense that I would try to get advice for as many people as I can. I would reach out to friends, acquaintances or colleagues who work in different industries to make sure that I hear the perspective of people from different backgrounds and who can see and think about problems in different ways. I do not need to admire or trust those individuals, but just see them as contributors of ideas. I agree, all entrepreneurs have some hardheadedness and sometimes that’s what makes them successful. However, entrepreneurs should also realize that they do not know everything and need to get some expert’s advice and opinion when it comes to specific topics. With different perspectives and data points, an entrepreneur should be able to weigh the pros and cons of different options and make an informed decision. I agree with Santana that you learn to trust your gut sense over time, but at all times, an entrepreneur should grow his network to have a plethora of resources to refer to for advice or even discussion.

On September 29, 2015, Guylaine commented on Integrating the personal with the professional :

I really liked you post Mils! I always think about the implications of mixing personal and professional relationships in a startup context. Although there is not right or wrong answer, based on personal experiences as well as what we have seen in the cases so far, I agree that one should put some discipline and governance mechanism in place when founding with family members. I find your second point -courage to turn off the familial relationship – very critical for a healthy relationship but also the hardest to apply. It’s easiest said than done. At the time of the arrangement, both parties might agree on paper on a reporting mechanism and ability to fire but when the time to give constructive feedback and fire actually comes, it is very hard to be completely emotionally detached from the reactions this discussion might create and indifferent to its implications on your personal life. Having said that, I believe that family members can still successfully build businesses with the right governance and processes in place. However, I totally agree with you when you say to never work with a partner or spouse. That’s a no-go territory. I believe that even with disciple and agreement upfront, the risk of damaging your personal relationship or marriage is extremely high.