Yet Another (ex-)VC Blog

Cloud computing, startups, and venture capital

Archive for March 2011

It’s all your fault!

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When people in my company would complain about something or other being broken such as the expense reporting process, I would joke that it was all my fault. The joke was funny, because it wasn’t really a joke. Every problem in the company was indeed my fault. As the founding CEO, every hire and every decision that the company ever made happened under my direction. Unlike a hired gun that comes in and blames all of the problems on the prior regime, there was literally nobody for me to blame.

via What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology..


Written by John Gannon

March 31, 2011 at 11:18 am

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5 feature requests for OHours 2.0

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Image representing Nate Westheimer as depicted...

Image via CrunchBase

I am a huge fan of OHours … a great idea and a natural product for a super-connector like Nate to create.  I’ve used the service to attend office hours as well as to host my own.

Nate – I know you’re swamped with marshalling the NY Tech Community, kissing babies, advising startups, and leaping tall buildings in a single bound … but if you get some more bandwidth to work on OHours, here are 5 features I’d love to see…partially because I think they are cool…and partially because I think they could help turn OHours into a business.  Not sure if that’s your goal, but I can dare to dream!

1) Sponsored OHours – I think you could sell sponsorships for OHours appointments with celebs, high profile members of the tech world, sports stars, etc.

2) Job seeker tools – My guess is that a decent sized chunk of people who are signing up for OHours appointments are job seekers.  Why not create a recommendation engine that would pull data from LinkedIn or Twitter to suggest which OHours would be best to attend given your career goals, companies for which you’d like to work, etc?

3) Help me meet who my friends are meeting – Like LinkedIn and Facebook, OHours should recommend to me who I should follow or with whom I should schedule OHours.  It should look at who my friends on have met via Ohours and use that information to suggest people I should be meeting as well.

4) Invite other Ohours members to my OHours – Anyone who is using OHours has some level of interest in open networking.  When I carve out a slot for OHours meetings, OHours should prompt me to invite some other OHours members to my Ohours session.  It would be a great way to foster and build the OHours community and increase overall Ohours activity.

5) Ohours ‘prep’ – I like that the Ohours system sends a confirmation when meetings are scheduled to occur, but it would be great if that confirmation contained a little bit of overview info (pulled from LinkedIn or Twitter, perhaps the person’s last few tweets, or the like) so that I can get a quick half-page view of who I am meeting and what they have been doing lately.

What do you think?  Leave me a comment below, or sign up for my next Ohours!

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Written by John Gannon

March 30, 2011 at 10:13 am

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4 tactics that worked for me in my recent job search

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Having just come off of a job search (I’m starting at AWS later this week!) I wanted to share some of the tactics that worked for me in scoring a job that I’m pretty darn excited about.

Let me know if you find these helpful and also if there are some tips that have worked well for you in past job searches.

1)  Focus your resume on accomplishments, not roles.

Your resume is going to set the tone for the discussions you have with recruiters and hiring managers.  Make sure it’s more than a list of job duties and functions.  This is your chance to tout measurable accomplishments that show how you stand out from the crowd.  Write about how you saved your last company $300,000 in CAPEX because you optimized an existing process, or how you ranked in the top 5% of your hiring class at your 1st job out of college.  Skip the stuff that’s generic (e.g. “Developed Java applications for large financial services company”) because it’s not going to help you get interviews or stand out from the rest of the pack.  Here are some more details about how to take your resume from good to great.

2) If you’re looking for a more entrepreneurial work environment, check in with your friendly neighborhood venture capitalist.

VCs are often a great source of information about which companies in the tech startup ecosystem are hiring.  There are some nuances to identifying which startups and which VCs to approach in your job search, and David Biesel of NextView Ventures put together a great series of posts about this very topic.

VCs are also just super well connected inside and outside the startup world.  It’s quite possible they know some folks within larger companies (after all, the larger companies end up buying their smaller companies) who might have a bead on some interesting roles.

Personally, I think outreach to VCs is perhaps the best way to get yourself in front of hiring managers in the tech world.  My last 2 job searches were heavily influenced by awesome introductions provided by folks in the VC community, so I can’t say enough about this tip specifically.

3) Track your activities and follow up tasks in a systematic way.

I’m a firm believer that the job hunt is very much like a sales process, where you’re prospecting (finding potential opportunities), conducting a needs assessment (interviewing), following up, and closing (negotiating your compensation package and signing on the dotted line).  Any professional salesperson is using a CRM of some sort (even if it’s just a spreadsheet!) to track and plan their activities, and a professional job seeker should be doing the same.

For my most recent job search, I used Highrise from 37signals to track relevant contacts as well as specific tasks related to job opportunities.   Their system helped me stay disciplined about following up and staying on top of specific job opportunities.  (BTW, has anyone used the Highrise APIs to develop a job seeker focused app?  I think this would be really cool and useful.)

4) Avoid the front door, and use the back door when possible.

Job boards and company resume submission sites tend to be a road to nowhere when it comes to scoring an invitation to interview for a role.  You’re much better off using these systems to identify which companies may be hiring, and which jobs are available.  Then, you can use Google or various social networking sites (LinkedIn is great for this) to identify people you might know at the company who could potentially refer you to the hiring manager or the HR department.

If you don’t know anyone at the company, you can still use these tools to identify people who are in the group that’s doing the hiring, and maybe develop some sort of a pitch (which you could deliver via a well written email, or a phone call) with which you can use to get your foot in the door.  I know this might seem a little pushy, but if you’re relying on job board or company website submissions otherwise, I don’t think you have much to lose by a more aggressive approach.

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Written by John Gannon

March 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm

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The Two Device Solution

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Simple but bold: Only use your computer for work. Real work. The work of making something.

Have a second device, perhaps an iPad, and use it for games, web commenting, online shopping, networking… anything that doesn’t directly create valued output (no need to have an argument here about which is which, which is work and which is not… draw a line, any line, and separate the two of them. If you don’t like the results from that line, draw a new line).

Now, when you pick up the iPad, you can say to yourself, “break time.” And if you find yourself taking a lot of that break time, you’ve just learned something important.

via Seth’s Blog: Are you making something?.

Written by John Gannon

March 24, 2011 at 1:15 pm

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HUGE week complete – accepted new job and ran Half Marathon

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Hopefully this post makes up for the recent deficiency of original content on!

I recently accepted a Business Development Manager position with Amazon Web Services (in New York City). My initial focus will be on encouraging adoption of and identifying growth markets for Compute services, which include services like EC2, Elastic MapReduce (Hadoop), and HPC. I’m looking forward to working with all shapes and sizes of customers, and being a resource for the NY Tech community as it related to AWS. So please don’t be shy, and please reach out if you want to talk some cloud! :)

The other #winning aspect of the week was that my wife Holly and I completed the NYC Half Marathon! This was my first road race, period, and I was very happy to make it over the finish line in about 2 hours and 42 minutes. I had a few physical setbacks during my training which I was able to overcome, which made it all the sweeter to race and finish. Thanks to various generous donors, my run also raised about $1400 for Team for Kids, an organization that helps promote healthy living for kids in NYC and South Africa.

Thanks for everyone’s support on both fronts (job hunting and half marathon)!

Written by John Gannon

March 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm

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Here’s why you should Poke the Box

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Starting is a risk. Things might not work out. You could flop. But one theme of this book–and it’s a theme that you should write on a rock, imprint on your brain, and inject into your bloodstream–is that we ought to be much more concerned about mediocrity than failure. “If you can’t fail,” Seth writes, “it doesn’t count.”

via Poke the Box 9781936719006: Seth Godin: Books.

Written by John Gannon

March 13, 2011 at 9:54 pm

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Career advice from an entrepreneur

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But entrepreneurs instinctually realize that the best advocate for their careers is themselves and that there is no such thing as a linear career path. They recognize they are going to have to follow their own internal compass and embrace the uncertainty as part of the journey.In fact using uncertainty as your path is an advantage entrepreneurs share. Their journey will have them try more disconnected paths than someone on a traditional career track. And one day all the seemingly random data and experience they’ve acquired will end up as an insight in building something greater than the sum of the parts.

via Agile Opportunism – Entrepreneurial DNA « Steve Blank.

Written by John Gannon

March 11, 2011 at 1:26 pm

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