Book Notes: Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Preface

I read a lot of business and strategy books. They often introduce me to different ideas or even simple solutions to issues I have while operating companies or trying to optimize my work and life. Some are pure business books, some are management books, some sales books. The subject varies but they all have an element of challenging the accepted path and have some form of advice on how to be better. I have a mixed relationship with this category of books.

On one hand I love the unlikely results, the challenge to accepted concepts and the applicable advice they offer. On the other hand, once I’ve grasped the key concepts, I find the authors tend to drone on and on about their subject. Sales books do this to an extreme. They may offer incredible sales tips, but in order to get those you need to read about how amazing the author is over and over again. I suspect it’s because their main audience, sales professionals, eat up the braggadocio and will only keep reading if they think the author is a sales master.

This style of writing in business books often means I will understand the key concept but will forget most of the interesting and practical advice the book has to offer. For this reason, I decided that for each business book I read I will write a short summary of the key concept as well as my key takeaways from reading it. These notes are geared toward myself and what I can integrate into my life and business. This means that I might overlook even the most interesting advice in the book if it’s already a part of my process, or if it simply wouldn’t apply.

I am sharing my notes, nonetheless, for anyone who may have read the book and wants to remember some key points, or simply wants to see some excerpts from the book, or is interested in what I liked about it.

Preface ends

Title: Essentialism: The disciplined Pursuit of Less

Author: Greg McKeown

Personal Scoring: 7/10

Advice Importance 8/10

Advice Applicability 7/10

Droning on and on: 5/10 (lower is better!)

Key Concepts

The book centers around the idea of “less, but better.” From the macro decision in life, like career choices, to day-to-day choices on how to spend your time, the author argues that we should do fewer things but do them better. We should not run after every opportunity, nor say yes to every commitment. He argues that the unbridled pursuit of everything makes you a slave to other people’s wishes. You stop focusing and working on what you like most or are best at to pursue whatever opportunity comes knocking, regardless of its suitability or likely outcome. He argues, correctly I think, that you should be fiendishly defending your time and choosing how you want to spend it.

He argues that we now live in world of abundance rather than scarcity, and as such we need to learn how and when to say no. How to pursue only what we really want and ignore the rest. Do only what is best – everything else is distraction. If you don’t really like a social event, don’t go just because of “fomo”. If your closet is full of clothes, just keep your favorite things and throw the rest out.

Key criticisms

Firstly, McKeown seems to be swimming in opportunities that come knocking on his door. He is obviously successful in his field, and I’m sure he would argue that is because he embodies his ideals of essentialism. However, I reckon that most people do not have to barricade their door and inbox against a relentless onslaught of opportunities. I myself, having been moderately successful, have to be constantly on the lookout for opportunities.

Secondly, most of McKeown’s advice works best if you are self-employed, or a manager, or generally can control your agenda. Some of his advice will straight-up get you fired as an employee. While this point is never explicitly addressed, the book often allude to it: “The employee had been there for so many years he/she had no chance of getting fired,” or “Even though she could have gotten fired, actually her manager saw the error of his way and converted to essentialism.”

My Key Takeaways

  • Being an “essentialist” does not mean looking at fewer opportunities. On the contrary, it actually means exploring more options, but ultimately choosing to pursue a lot fewer of them.
  • The problem of ‘straddling.’ When as a person or a company you try to do everything, but ultimately do everything poorly. Or worse, people do not recognize what you do. The example he gives is how Southwest Airlines basically went full low-cost carrier without any concessions. Then Continental tried to replicate their success while also keeping their mid-market position at the same time and failed.
    • This reminds me of my experience with Home61, where we tried to do a little bit of everything at the same time. Because the Real Estate category is huge, we could do everything: buying, selling, commercial, lead gen. For a while we were unfocused, and it was difficult.
    • The issue with startups is that your product-market fit is rarely obvious. In which case, do you try 10 things at once and see what sticks? Or do you try 10 things one after the other but upping the quality of each individual test? The book seems to suggest doing the latter. I am not sure.
  • In chapter 6 McKeown talks about understanding the “essence” of things rather than being bogged down by details. I think that is interesting in a number of ways.
    • For abusiness to launch, what is the overarching premise? What are the key reasons it will work? Assuming you can execute perfectly, why is this the best opportunity for you? We should understand the consequences of a fact or a moment (like a recession), rather than worry about the details. For example, think about what effect the coronavirus will have on the long term rather than looking at the play-by-play details in the news reports.
    • For personal relationships, don’t worry so much about what is being said in a fight, but think about why you are having a fight in the first place. Understand the motivation of the person rather than their approach.
  • Perhaps the most interesting concept in the book is the power of “extreme criteria”. That is, applying highly selective criteria in your decision-making. It’s either, Hell yeah! or, No way! This applies very well for selecting business opportunities and for HR matters.
    • I have often agreed to jump on project I was only mildly interested in, and as a result I have not delivered or did a poor job of it.
    • In my experience, 9 times out of 10 if I had a doubt about someone during the hiring process, that person did not work out or under-performed for the exact reason that was worrying me. In other words, I should have applied more extreme criteria: it’s better to be one person short than to be stuck with a low performer.
  • Clarity of goals and roles. If the mission is not crystal clear, people in doubt will be less creative and hard working.
    • For years a key practice of mine has been to leave project descriptions ambiguous to see if someone will come up with something ingenious or unexpected. This is counterproductive.  
    • Furthermore, clear goals and responsibilities motivate people a lot more than a motivational speech.
  • Mission statements. It is less about wordsmithing and more about clarity. To build a good mission statement you must make sure it answers the question: How do we know we succeeded? This will create a clear mission statement for everyone in your company. The book offers practical advice here. I will simply paste what it says.
    • Mission statement should NOT:
      • be vague or general (bland words like leadership, teamwork, etc.)
      • be a concrete objective that is not inspiring
      • provide no guiding principle on how to implement values
    • Bad example: “Profitable growth though superior customer service, innovation, quality and commitment.”
    • Mission statement SHOULD:
      • be concrete and inspirational
      • have an intent that is meaningful and memorable
      • make a big decision that eliminates thousands of smaller ones
    • Good example: “To get everyone in the UK online by the end of 2012.”
  • McKeown gives the example of Jack Dorsey, who chooses only to focus on one or two ideas that his team provide him at any given time. He is flooded with a lot of ideas or projects from his team, but he feels his job is to pick only the essential ones. The author pushes it further: that if the idea/project does not add to the company, even if it is a pet project, you must kill it. “Kill your darlings,” is what Stephen King said about editing out characters or threads that do not add to the story. The principle applies in business as well.
  • Focusing on the spirit of a project rather than the details. The example the book gives is from Michael Khan, chief film editor for Steven Spielberg. He does not do precisely what Spielberg tells him to do, but rather what he thinks Spielberg really wants.
    • This is something I want to instill in my colleagues. Often when I give a briefing, I get no questions, ideas or push-back. They do what I say to the letter, which means I really need to give extremely detailed briefs. It is very hard to do it on every project. I would rather have my peers ask, prod, and clarify while we are doing the brief of the task.
  • McKeown then touches on a current subject of mine: preparation vs. execution. He says the more prepared you are, the easier everything gets. Basically, save time by preparing your quarter, your week, your day for it to be most productive, but also be done much faster. And leave some slack in your plan for when something inevitable happens. He applies this to work but also for cash reserves of companies and personal finances.
    • I particularly liked the example he gave when he was doing his post graduate degree. He took his syllabus and planned out exactly what he would do and when, preparing huge deliverables bit by bit, weeks and months in advance.
    • This is quite similar to habit forming and programming. When you plan out what you will be doing and when, you then run on auto pilot and the execution become seamless. It is not dissimilar to how I know a day ahead of time what manual work (which I hate) I will do the next day.
  • With regard to motivation, the book explains that progress is the most effective motivation to humans.
    • Celebrating small incremental progress as a win is paramount for fundamental changes. (see the title to the blog!)
    • “Friday wins” we did at Home61 worked really well.
    • Also, steadiness and repetition of progress is a huge weapon. Better to run a little bit everyday than do huge runs ones in a while.
  • McKeown adds, of the power of perception in motivation, “There is something powerful about visibly seeing progress towards a goal.”
    • This is very true. At Home61, people loved when we added our top deals and number of closings on the wall. This should also be applied to projects. There should be a wall that shows what are the top projects, who is responsible for what, and what stage it is in.
    • Trello is useful for remote working but not transparent enough. The key developments should be physically visible. Go, Post-Its!
  • There is an entire chapter on building good habits and routines. This goes hand in hand with the preparation point above.
    • I liked the quote: “Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition.”
    • I also liked the example of Michael Phelps’ routine, where each step is deliberate, practiced and repeated.
    • I liked that the race was just a part of the routine. It continued after the race was over, thus deflating the stress associated with the race. I will surely apply this to my tennis practice and matches.
  • In the same chapter on routines, he talks about a company that did a ritualized Monday meeting of three hours. Everyone had to attend – no travel, no ifs, no buts.
    • I like the ritual of it, and I like the bonds you create by starting the week together. But I’ve also experienced meetings where it was so boring that for most of the people it was a chore to attend.
    • I wonder if for my next company we might do a Monday breakfast that everyone needs to attend, a way to catch up on the weekend and build bonds. I am still undecided on this.
  • The last chapter is about leadership and held the most interest for me of the entire book.
    • It recaps how clarity of task and purpose unify people and teams.
    • It recaps that one wrong hire is far costlier than being one person short.
    • It recaps that people on a project should know who is responsible for what.
    • Having clarity of responsibility also adds the ability to easily follow up on the key task and celebrate the small wins achieved.

Overall, I am happy to have read “Essentialism.” It helped articulate some concepts I was working on and introduced some new ones to me. I will review these notes when I write the handbook of my next company, to make sure I didn’t miss any key concepts that I like. Overall, I would recommend this book mostly to people who feel they are overworked but do not feel they’re making progress, or people who struggle with work/life balance, and feel they never have the time for anything.

You must get the first big decisions right to have a chance to win.

Photo by byron hardy from FreeImages

Through the lifetime of my companies, I have taken thousands of decisions. But only a handful of these decisions were crucial to their success.

As an operating leader who loves the different facets of business, I would often have my fingerprints in all parts of the companies. Particularly when we are launching a new company and we seriously lack resources micro decisions, such as working on the location of a call-to-action or the details of the FAQ, are a good thing. However, the reality is that only a handful of decisions of the many thousands taken truly matters, and most of these decisions are taken before we even get started.

To illustrate this point, let’s take the two companies I led, and subsequently had to close Shoes4you.com.br and Home61.com, and the most successful brandsclub.com.br. I will analyze the initial decisions made that doomed some of the companies from the start and primed the other company for success.  At the end of the analysis I will create the guidelines of I will use before starting a new company.

Brandsclub.com.br

Brandsclub.com.br was a private flash sale model for luxury brands in Brazil. This company was similar to gilt.com in the US. The company launched online in March 2009. By September, we were doing $1M in monthly revenue and growing by over 75K new members every month. While we were doing our best to operate a fast-growing business, the reality was that the management was inexperienced, and we committed a lot of mistakes. Perhaps, we made more wrong decisions than correct ones, but it did not matter as we had the core decisions right.

In terms of location and timing, we could not have been luckier. Brazil was going through an economic boom in 2009. It was one of the last countries to enter the recession, and one of the first to leave it. Furthermore, it experienced a commodity boom, where a vast amount of its population of 200M had disposable income for the first time. We arrived with a model that relied 100 percent on disposable income and we sold luxury items at affordable prices that could be flaunted as status symbols of newly gained wealth.

The growth of the Brazilian economy, 7.5 percent in 2010 compared to 2.5 percent of the US, and the rapidly expanding startup ecosystem attracted a lot of investors who were worried about missing the boat on emerging markets. This created an access to capital not seen since the dotcom bubble era and made capital intensive businesses like brandsclub.com.br viable.

In addition, on the supply side, outlets in Brazil were poorly developed at the time. Brands found us a welcome solution to take care of their overstock. On the demand side, performance marketing simply did not exist at the time. Coming with what would be considered basic marketing today enabled us to dominate the SEM market, paying $1 per lead and $14 per paying lead.

The accumulation of those elements meant rapid growth, which, in turn, meant that most of our mistakes would be swept under the rug.

Thanks largely to picking the right business model, in the right country and at the right time, brandsclub.com.br ended selling for over $50M to Naspers in 2012.

Shoes4you.com.br

Shoes4you.com.br was a Brazilian women’s shoes brand whose business model was to offer a discount on shoes in exchange for a monthly subscription. This company was similar to Shoedazzle.com and justfab.com in the US. The company launched in June 2011 and was immediately lauded by the media. On paper, this company was a clear winner.

Shoedazzle was the darling of e-commerce, having raised $40M in May of 2011 from Andreessen Horowitz, giving us a lot of attention. The business model hype, the excitement of emerging market for investors, being an American entrepreneur with a track record (brandsclub) in the country, and attached to an incubator loved by VC, we were able to secure funding at seed from Redpoint Ventures and Accel Partners. Furthermore, we were able to gather a team of co-founders of exceptional caliber. We had the hottest business of the moment, the best backers, an amazing team, and the media loved us.

So what could go wrong?

I made two fundamental mistakes that doomed the business virtually from the beginning. My understanding of the fashion industry and the business model choice. Interestingly, those mistakes were made worldwide by tons of incredibly smart entrepreneurs and VCs as similar businesses launched throughout the world, and all of them suffered the same fate as Shoes4you.

To illustrate the first problem, most of the CEOs on subscription fashion came from retail e-commerce or consulting firms that help retailers, and we set up our business like one. In retail, you are selling other people’s brands. They basically sell themselves. What you really need to worry about is your markup, logistics, customer service, and ease of use of your website.

Being a brand itself, Shoes4you’s margin would be bigger, so I really focused on logistics and technology. We had not sold a single pair of shoes, yet we could deliver in 24h in Sao Paulo and 72h anywhere in Brazil. The website had been A/B tested every which way before launch. However, the same could not be said on branding.

I knew that branding drove conversion rate. To cover that topic, we got a celebrity to become our partner, hired an expensive fashion PR company, and called it a day. I had assumed that the conversion rate would be 2–4x lower than with existing brands. I had completely misunderstood the magnitude of the difference. It was over 10x lower! This drove our Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) through the roof, and despite the amazing economics of subscription business, we could never get close to the fabled Lifetime Value (LTV) of 3x our CAC.

Interestingly, the challenge of the business drove me further into my comfort zone. I started maniacally optimizing our marketing campaigns. Landing pages were tested and changed on a daily basis. We created tools to optimize our product display based on the sell-through rate. What I did not have was a high impact branding campaign.

The lack of knowledge of the industry created a false expectation on the conversion rate. This led to the wrong prescription to our symptoms and gave us nowhere to go when the business had no future. When the subscription model became less novel and attractive to customers and investors alike, it was clear I had to close down the company. Had we had created a recognizable brand, we could have joined a larger brand, operated as a regular e-commerce company, or partnered with an offline retailer. Instead, we had created a very fast and user-friendly way to deliver shoes that people did not want.

It is not to say the business was an easy one. Every single company that opened with the same model outside the US closed down. Direct to consumer (D2C) businesses that were all the rave for a while started closing or struggling worldwide. Even in the US, the originator of the model, Shoedazzle, ended up selling at a loss. However, deep knowledge and understanding of the industry would have been a complete game-changer.

Justfab.com, the second to market competitor of Shoedazzle, bucked the first mover advantage, won the shoe club category and acquired Shoedazzle in 2013. The key differentiator of Justfab? They came from Intelligent Beauty Inc., an incubator that specializes in creating fashion brands to sell directly to consumers. Besides starting with an enormous database of women having bought from their other brands, they knew exactly what it took to build a brand.

Closer to my adoptive home, a friend and fellow entrepreneur, Dominique Oliver, launched Amaro.com, a women’s clothing fashion brand. It is an admittedly more difficult business than Shoes4you. With a much better understanding of the fashion industry and excellent execution skills, Amaro.com has been thriving in the perpetually complex Brazilian environment. Nothing exemplifies this better than the fact that Dominique won the GQ Brasil Men of the Year award for fashion.

Home61

Home61.com, my latest venture, was a tech real estate brokerage. It was an efficiency play that did not create a new business model. Instead, it used technology to greatly improve the performance of an existing model; here, a real estate brokerage. Uber, for example, is an efficiency play. The goal of the company was to help the mass market get an unparalleled level of service while enabling our real estate agents to earn more. Launching in 2015 in Miami, the company immediately showed a lot of potential.

The residential market of the US represents $2 Trillion of assets. There are 2.1M real estate agents and $60 Billion of commission generated each year. At the same time, real estate agents are one of the most loathed service providers in the US. The transaction from discovery to funding is archaic, and the industry is data-rich. The market seemed ripe for disruption. At the same time, VCs were hungry for Prop tech and willing to back anything even remotely related to Real Estate.

Miami, as the original city, seemed to make sense. The metrics were perfect—40,000 real estate agents, $25 Billion transacted each year, and a very fragmented market. My senior co-founder lived there, and coincidentally, I could live there for free, thanks to a family home. At a company level, the first tests were returning incredible results, as well.

Our very first lead converted into a paying customer after a single day of showing him homes. Within the first three months, a $1M lead basically barged into our office to buy a home. Our unit economics were positive since the very first month, and we were doing over $40k/month within the first few months with a tiny team and having raised almost no money. But even early on, fundamental issues started appearing.

The first one was our inability to control growth. Our initial research showed the biggest issue realtors had was that they did not have enough leads. This worked well into my skill set. We would generate leads, understand our conversion rate, see that the unit economics were positive, and then simply spend more until we broke even and launched across the US.

This was simple—correct for many businesses, but not for real estate.

In our business, the Real Estate agents’ conversion of leads would vary by a factor of 100x! Some agents would have a 0.1 percent conversion rate, while others would have a conversion rate of 20 percent. Furthermore, agents were naturally not constant throughout the year. This meant I had a part of our funnel that varied, and we had little control over our results. This meant we needed to recruit better agents or improve the people we had. All of a sudden, our company needed to become a sales recruiting and training machine. It was a skill set that no one at the company excelled in.

Not having the right skill set was due to our misunderstanding of what the company would become, which, in turn, meant we did not have the right team to start with. Fresh from the defeat of Shoes4you, I did not want to carry the responsibility of Home61 alone. Luckily, I had a great friend who was a great entrepreneur, super smart and knew a ton about Real Estate. Besides, he had an attention to detail I do not have. It felt like a match made in heaven on paper. He took on the role of COO, but for a long time, it felt he should have been the CEO of the venture due to his deeper knowledge and connection to the industry. Early on, he made it clear he did not want to take care of a sales team.

I did not quite listen.

My friend was intelligent, the sales team loved him, so I had him take care of the team for a long time. But taking care of the team made him unhappy. So we looked for someone else to take care of the subject. This created new issues.

Suddenly, we had two senior partners whose skills overlapped and neither with the mission critical aspect of the business as a direct responsibility. Worse, because the company was not growing as we had hoped for, it pushed forward our differences. Suddenly, our work styles were working against one another instead of being complementary. After three years of working together, we ended our working relationship, which became one of the hardest moments of my career.

The hardships were accentuated by the choice of Miami as our first city. The plan was to launch in the first city and scale into new locations rapidly. However, with the growth being tamer than planned, we could never really justify the investment of launching in more cities. Worse yet, it made fundraising incredibly difficult. Every investor we met questioned the location. Despite solid metrics in revenue and unit economics at the seed stage, it was harder to raise capital than if we had been outside the US.

The proximity of San Francisco and New York without being there created all forms of doubt that we needed to overcome. We were finally able to raise but at a lower valuation than we would have had in tech hub, and more importantly, after spending a lot more time fundraising. Furthermore, the choice of the city also impacted who we could hire tremendously. In developed ecosystems, larger companies such as Facebook, Google, and established startups have trained a significant percentage of the population to work together and on online/offline projects seamlessly. Working out of Miami meant not only training the teams on their specialty but also on how to work together. It increased the inefficiency in the company and increased the cost of operating.

The lesson I take from my ventures is that there are a few decisions at the beginning of the company that if you get right, they will increase your odds of success tremendously, and if you get wrong, they will spell doom. Below, I compiled my learnings into a practical guidelines I will use before starting my next company.

But firstly, I want to add that getting the macro decisions right will forgive a lot of wrong micro decisions—but only up to a point. Despite having a great momentum and launching in a near-perfect context, Brandsclub.com.br closed down a few years after it was sold. The company’s inability to scale its logistics in pace with the growth of sales built a huge logistical and customer service debt. Deliveries that sometimes took months gave an opening to our competitor Privalia, who scaled slower but smarter. Eventually, they passed us, dominated the market, and later sold Veepee for $600M.

What you must get right:

For my next venture, I will answer each of the following points before deciding to launch. I hope you find it useful too!

Understanding of the business and incumbents. Both at Home61 and Shoes4you, I did not know enough about the market and challenges incumbents were facing.

For the next startup, a 3–6 months immersion is necessary. (There will be a blog post about the methodology of the immersion.)

Picking the right partner for the venture. For Home61, I found an amazing person, but both of us refused to take care of sales and overlapped on responsibilities for the rest.

For the next startup, either take a senior partner to cover a mission-critical role I cannot fill or do not take a senior partner.

Understand clearly the location pros and cons. Brazil was an evergreen field with plenty of tech talent but with a complicated HR administration for Brandsclub. Miami made fundraising and talent recruiting very complicated.

For the next startup, the location must have a mature ecosystem, which includes access to capital throughout the different stages, a trained and available workforce, a startup-friendly government, and a sizable market.

Understand timing. Brandsclub benefited from Brazil’s community boom, Shoes4you benefited from the appetite of VCs for Brazilian market, and Home61 benefited from the enthusiasm of VCs for proptech.

For the next startup, understand the availability of cash and markets. Short-term: VC appetite for the category. Mid-term availability of cash due to low/high interest rate. Consolidation in the incumbent market. Risk of a company backed by a Powerball VC on the horizon.

Picking the right business. Both Shoes4you and Home61 hinged on skills that were not my natural strong suit.

For the next startup, understand the founder market fit on top of the business market fit. This is linked to a crystal clear understanding of the business but adds the layer that if the business is understood and is interesting, I should seriously consider not doing it if it requires skills I do not have or things I do not like. For instance, managing a sales team or taking advantage of people (horoscope).

Bonus: Get advisors. In the last year of Home61, I got an advisor in the form of Tim Jackson from Walking Ventures. He was not an advisor for Home61. He was one for me. He helped with everything from the micro to macro. If I had him with me earlier, we might have succeeded with Home61. If I had him before Home61, I might have picked a business that suited me better.

For the next startup, I will surround myself with people who are smarter than me in their category. Work closely with at least 1 advisor for myself, and 1 company advisor who is deeply entrenched in the market with the will to open doors. (There will be a blog post deep diving into the benefits of an advisor.)

Feel free to use the list at your leisure and let me know how you used it, if it benefited you and if you added anything!

Home61 is dead…what gems are buried in its corpse?

On December 15th 2019 I announced to my team that, after 5 long years of trying to change how people bought and sold real estate, the adventure was coming to an end. Home61, was going to close. Soon after I announced it to our sales team and investors.

It was a tough. 5 years I refused to give up despite the odds and often my better judgement. The business model made sense but launching a startup in Miami had made it harder to fund raise and get talent. Not impossible, just harder. Furthermore, what I though would be a tech and marketing play with a little bit of sales turned out to be seventy-five percent sales. Our tech component enabled scale and efficiency but only if we got the sales component right. Which we never really did. Despite running a company in an industry I was not familiar with, in a tough environment and that required a different skill set I persisted and I kept pushing to the very end.

I was fueled by a lot of things, some positive, some less so. I was fueled by ego. It did not matter what challenges would come my way I would overcome them. It was fueled by fear. I had to close down one startup already, no way i was closing another one. I was fueled by loss aversion. Once I had invested 4 years into Home61 I felt I had to try more to not “waste” the first 4 years. But perhaps more importantly I was fueled by the people that supported me. My investors, my team, everyone was so supportive, understanding and helpful. They made it easy to keep fighting the good fight for them. However, despite the goodwill, the efforts, the money, the time and the general sense that I would find a way. I could not make it work.

The final cause of death was failure to raise funds but the ailment that lead to this was lack of growth. From 2017 to 2019 we only grew from $1.4M in revenue to $1.9M. On the same period of time we increased our net margin from $110K to $360K which was nice, just not enough.

The silver lining of running a company fraught with challenges for so long is that you learn… a lot. I learned a ton about management, culture, human resource and a lot more than i ever expected about sales but perhaps more importantly about myself. What I am good at, what I do not well but more importantly what I am willing to do and no longer willing to do. Most of those learning are amorphous, free floating in my head. Before I forget them, I want to reflect on them put them on paper. I want to clearly define how I want to lead my next team and company.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will spend at least 15min a day gaining insights on my learning and transforming them in actionable items. I will describe to the best of my abilities the process and insight on this blog.

Why Start a Blog?

The short answer is that I want help and to help. oliviergrinda.com will help me achieve both at the same time.

As a young entrepreneur in 2009, I received a ton of help from virtually everyone I knew. I credit this help, and long hours, for the success of professional and personal life. Grateful, I always made a point to help anyone that asked. This blog will hopefully give me a broader reach and give me the opportunity to give back more than I took.

Every few days I will publish new articles about my passions: Tech, startups, sports, lifehacks and random fact. The format will range from practical advice in business, thoughts on the tech market, books to read, fun challenges, to dives in the many many many mistakes I have done along the way.

The overarching theme is personal growth. I always hated the concept that at a random point in life we stop learning, say upon graduating, or trying to improve oneself physically and mentally. Entropy is inevitable, when to give up the fight against it is choice. I hope that through this blog you will find new, fun way to grow with me.

It is not an entirely selfless exercise. At my core, I am lazy, hungry and optimistic. This paradigm enabled me to take insane risks and lead to many successes. It help me convince an investor to back me at 22, built 4 amazing startups, find the love of my life in a foreign land, among many others. However, it also left me woefully unprepared at times. I did not understand the fashion world while leading a brand, I missed opportunities that sat in my emails and often did not take obvious steps of short term pain for long term gains.

oliviergrinda.com is part of my answer to push my positive attributes and soften my negative ones. I aim to build a routine and with a routine more productivity. As well as a medium to reflect, structure and express my thoughts in a meaningful and actionable manner.

Welcome to the start of this journey! Let’s get better everyday!