High Growth Handbook
High Growth Handbook
Elad Gil
Well known technology executive and angel investor Elad Gil has worked with high growth tech companies like Airbnb, Twitter, Google, Instacart, Coinbase, Stripe, and Square as they've grown from small companies into global brands. Across all of these break-out companies, a set of common patterns has evolved into a repeatable playbook that Gil has codified in High Growth Handbook. Covering key topics including the role of the CEO, managing your board, recruiting and managing an executive team, M&A, IPOs and late stage funding rounds, and interspersed with over a dozen interviews with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley including Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Marc Andreessen (Andreessen Horowitz), and Aaron Levie (Box), High Growth Handbook presents crystal clear guidance for navigating the most complex challenges that confront leaders and operators in high-growth startups. In what Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and co-author of the #1 NYT bestsellers The Alliance and The Startup of You calls "a trenchant guide," High Growth Handbook is the playbook for turning a startup into a unicorn.
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Mishti Sharma@Mishti · 1mo
A recent Twitter discussion on the future of book writing as a more public, collaborative process brought to mind Elad's town hall, where he told us that HGH started off as a series of blog posts on questions that he & friends faced with their companies. Repetition and consistency helped him build a body of work (and an audience!) over time. But in a sea of online content, a publisher's approval still matters: “One thing that really surprised me is that once you have a physical book, people start treating your writing very differently, like it suddenly has a level of seriousness that, if it was a website, people wouldn’t have treated the same," he told us. Another example of the web book is Ryan Singer's Shape Up: https://m.signalvnoise.com/how-i-wrote-shape-up/ tweet thread with with @dk and @nbaschez: https://twitter.com/m1shti/status/129873 see https://blog.highlighter.com/roundup-of-highlighter-live-town-hall-with-elad-gil/
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In reply to Nadia Eldeib
3mo
arti villa
@artivilla · 3mo
Your response has a lot of clarity — I would agree on an intersection of skills they are excited to acquire and skills they have already performed ... more
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In reply to Nadia Eldeib
3mo
Nadia Eldeib
@Nadia · 3mo
Would love to hear your perspective too @artivilla - what are your thoughts?
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3mo
Nadia Eldeib
@Nadia · 3mo
For me, I think it’s not at all related to titles or years of experience and much more about the intersection of skills someone has has (what are t... more
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In reply to Nadia Eldeib
3mo
arti villa
@artivilla · 3mo
@Nadia what characteristics make this person a good fit for the 12-18 months? I’m looking for answers behind just titles or number of years o... more
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Mishti Sharma@Mishti · 4mo
I was intrigued that @elad mentioned at the Highlighter Live town hall last night that only a fraction of the content he'd originally outlined made it into the book. I've always thought it would be super interesting to read old pre-print versions of notable books to see what was edited out. Sort of like peeking into the writer's mind throughout the writing process. As people write and publish more online (with easier ways to track edits/changes) and “note sharing” (a la Roam) becomes a thing — I wonder if releasing writing in an object that shows process or "real time edits" will be a way for creators to teach their craft or interact with reader communities more closely.
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If you're going to hire someone externally, I think generally the way to retain people who are performing and who you really want to retain is to hire someone that they can learn from. And if that's true, a lot of well-motivated people will stay. Where they don't perceive that they can learn from the new executive, it may be better for them, psychologically or professionally, to go somewhere else and get on a steep learning curve again. So it does depend. But I don't think it's a reason to avoid hiring
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David King@dk · 4mo
So much of motivation at any level of seniority is about learning and growing.
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So clearly you can constantly look to improve. You don't have to find the magical solution right away. If you aim for zero-defect hiring, it's a little bit like zero-defect decision-making: you're probably too conservative. We teach, and I subscribe to the view, that you want to pull the trigger on an initiative or an executive hire when you're about 70 percent confident that it's the right decision
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David King@dk · 4mo
The speed to hire and execute makes it worth evaluating if the recruiting process is too conservative (looking for zero-defect hiring).
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One technique I learned, actually from Brian Chesky at Airbnb, is to go find the five best people in Silicon Valley that do that role, and just have coffee with them. And just chat. In that dialogue, I think you form an ability to benchmark the differences between an A+ and a B+, so that when you meet new candidates, actual candidates, you can triangulate against the people you've met that are clearly stellar. And so you should use your board, your investors, any connections you have to get introduced to the five best people, and then spend some time
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David King@dk · 4mo
Benchmarking talent outside of roles that are already well understood by the founder. Casual chats with lots of successful people in that role at other companies to calibrate.
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"Once you hire your first seasoned exec who works out, you will be grateful for her presence. All sorts of things will magically just get done. People will get hired, deals will get closed, process will tighte up. It can be a wondrous experience."
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David King@dk · 4mo
The magic of a seasoned exec according to Elad.
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David King@dk · 4mo
What are your thoughts on the helpfulness of “celebrity” board members from domains outside tech? e.g. would a former president of the US be a helpful board member for a high growth technology startup?
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was talking to him about how things aren't going that well, and he said that one of the mistakes he made is that he has 74 investors. But he was really proud, because for those 74 investors, he responded to every annual audit request. They told him that he was one of the only CEOs that responded right away. He was really proud of this. And I said, “Look, this is a crazy thing. Your company is on fire. You got one not-important tactical thing done while the company is failing, and you feel great about that
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David King@dk · 4mo
One needs to ruthlessly prioritize for success. Don’t get busy feeling successful addressing administrivia while missing the big moves that will make the company win.
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But really the only universal job description of CEO is making sure the company wins. And so deciding what the company is going to do and making sure the company gets that done—that's the most critical part of the job
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David King@dk · 4mo
The job of the CEO according to Sam Altman.
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Some of the most valuable long-term employees of a high-growth company join early on. These employees often have earned the trust and admiration of the founders and CEO, and they have the cultural context and long-term mission of the company in mind, which enables them to achieve outsized things in a high-growth startup. Examples like Susan Wojciki (Google employee #16 and eventual CEO of YouTube) and Google and Chris Cox at Facebook (who joined as an engineer in 2005 and is now chief product officer) come to mind.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Also, Salar Kamanagar at Google, probably Jason Goldman at Twitter, maybe even Reid Hoffman at PayPal. It seems like every company that wins has these “old timers” who really know how to think with a shared DNA.
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Ensure that you have diverse candidates for each role. You will never have a diverse employee base if you do not ensure diverse candidates in your funnel. Building a diverse funnel means not only sourcing a broader spectrum of candidates, but also thinking through the language in your job descriptions, how employees are represented on your website, and other factors that will impact who applies.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Be careful about language and imagery in recruiting website. It sets the tone of who the company may attract. Are there specific networks that help to increase diverse candidate funnels?
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MOVE FAST Every company I have ever worked for, or with, has realized that one of the biggest determinants of candidate conversion is how quickly you interview them and how quickly you can make an offer. Beyond conversion, a key metric to track is how long candidates spend in each step of the interview process. You should optimize for shorter times between each step and for rapidly getting offers out.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Speed as key in recruiting.
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But it's sort of odd to have a chair who's not also a founder.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Silicon Valley style boards versus public company boards.
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You can keep the board small in multiple ways: one is, don't give up more than one board seat per round. The most common mistake I see entrepreneurs make is this: they want to get two investors involved, they do a two VC round, and they've got two board seats from one round. That adds really fast. Because then when you get to series C, series D, series E, you've suddenly got a six-, seven-, eight-person board.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Is it common to add/reserve founder/management board seats for subsequent financing rounds?
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Now, it might be as a board member you say, “I think you should build product X,” or, "you should build feature Y,” or “you should execute strategy Z.” Those are possibilities. But they should always be phrased as questions. For example, you might ask, “You know, I've thought really hard about the strategy that you guys have been doing, and the following thing strikes me as a risk. Do you think it's a risk or not? I thought of a way to measure it, or to mitigate it. What do you think?" If you do it that way, it's a conversation.
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David King@dk · 4mo
Master communication techniques from Reid Hoffman. This approach to influence is useful in so many aspects of life, even outside of boards.
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When hiring executives, look for people who have the experience and background that would make them a good fit or hire for the next 12–18 months. Anything shorter than that and they will not be able to scale sufficiently far relative to the time it takes to hire them. Anything longer and you will over-hire and end up with someone who is a bad fit for the job.
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Nadia Eldeib@Nadia · 4mo
This insight is not something I’ve considered before, but makes a ton of sense and seems incredibly accurate when I think about execs I’ve worked with and how they’ve succeeded or failed in the role they were hired.
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