I find myself talking management and ops a lot. I talk about it here, a lot. Some of it you have to learn on the job and some you can quickly digest and adapt (steal) from other places.
This is my management quick reference guide from some of my favorites. I send this list (crash course) out often and wanted to clean it up and share here with a bit of texture.
Whether you’re just starting out, in the middle of your management or exec journey or you have lots of battle scars, there is something on this list that will make you better.
At some point, I’ll pull these out into individual posts and highlight the best nuggets, but for now, why wait? Add them to your war chest or quick reference manual.
How to Operate: Keith Rabois – One of my all time favorites
How to Manage with Ben Horowitz
The entire How to Start a Startup Class Playlist is amazing. There are 20 videos on various topics, roughly 45 minutes long each. What the hell did founders do before the internet?
These are high leverage, easy watches.
I’ve been reading Fred Wilson (avc.com) for the better part of a decade, if not longer. He used to insightfully post on a meaty topic every Monday until, after a few years, he exhausted his list. He continues to be one of my fave VC reads on the internet and the usefulness of his posts, like the “X / Y Axis of Giving Feedback” and “Asking an Employee to Leave the Company“, will live on probably forever. They all helped me a ton as I was trying to stay ahead of the demands of fast growth, high change management.
Traction – Once when I was in the messy middle of trying to evolve my management framework from startup to grown up, someone said to me, “You’ll eventually figure it out, but remember, there is no paint by number system”. I believed that, and went about amalgamating nuggets from a multitude of sources until a fellow founder / CEO, Dan Roitman, put Traction on my radar.
Vision, mission, values. Strategy, goals and ops. Alignment, frameworks and outcomes. It’s a comprehensive mix of theory and tactics for managing a high performance team and company. Read it cover to cover or hunt, peck and steal from it. I wish I found it in 2009. The Level 10 meeting chapter is especially useful if you want to start with a useful tactical pillar and work outward. #middleout
Get the Traction Book
Principles – Ray Dalio – I’ve written about this before. This is the management bible from one of the best. It looks like a bible and should sit on every CEO’s nightstand to read from and prayed with often. I have a friend who runs a huge agency who actually does just that. Don’t be offended by my referencing the church of Dalio. It’s that good.
His story is fascinating in the first third. The second third, Life Principles, should be read by every single high school or college age kid at the beginning of their journey. I give it out as all grad gifts at this point. The last third is Work Principles, which he puts forth as a reference guide, but it’s as compelling as it is useful.
(BONUS) The Hard Thing About Hard Things – Remember Horowitz from the Video section? I call this book a bonus, because it’s great for two things but not necessarily the essential read if you have hit the other stuff.
This book is great for expanding your exec toolkit and crafting a more nuanced managerial playbook. It’s also great if you are reporting to an executive and you’d like to maximize your ability to manage up. That said, there is an adversarial tone to his approach and I’m of the opinion that you can be just as effective, wartime or not, with a constructive communication and leadership style – so long as people are listening.
If you are on the fence about THTAHT and have the bandwidth. Read it.
This isn’t the first list like this, and it won’t be the last. My friend Tom, an excellent executive, mentor and RevZilla board member, once told me, “Remember, you don’t have to be bad to be better”. Even if you know a lot, you can always improve.