Luck favors the prepared, as well as those who keep their eyes and ears open for “opportunities”. (Colleagues who do the same is a big help too.) The truth be told I consider myself quite fortunate to have made time for Steve Papa’s appearance at Princeton University late yesterday afternoon. Aside from being a graduate of Princeton (1994), Papa was also one of the founders of Endeca Technologies. Less than a year ago Endeca was acquired by Oracle for around $1.1 billion.
Here are some of the highlights from my notes:
- Rule #1 – Ignore the experts. When you’re doing something new there are people who just won’t get it.
- Learn to succeed despite the odds. Have faith, it’s part of the process.
- When financial times are tight, sell a painkiller (i.e., a product that increases revenue).
- Recession, reinvention & re-organization.
- Main lesson: Ideas <–> Figuring it out <–> Execution. There’s more to it than just ideas and execution. The fulcrum (that few talk about) is figuring it out.
- “Survivorship bias”—Don’t let early customers over-influence your product / direction. The customer is always right, but not every customer is the right customer at the right time for your company.
- Being entrepreneurial is the relentless pursuit of credibility.
- Fact: Entrepreneurs don’t create risk, they mitigate it.
- Be aware of macroeconomics
- “It’s always a good time to innovate but there’s not always time for every innovation.”
- You will hire people who will not do what is good and best for your company. This is particularly true of sales people.
- With regards to hiring:
– Repeaters vs creators
– Doers vs leaders
– Intellectually curious vs focused
– Experience vs potential
– Credibility vs talent, or both?
- Where the company / product is in the development cycle will drive the specifics of your hiring needs.
- Key to sales: Timing, territory & talent in that order. [Note: He made it a point to highlight that timing and territory come before talent.]
The two best gems came towards the end of the presentation:
- Luck plays a bigger role than most will admit. But luck favors the prepared.
- “I figured out the right approach by process of elimination.”
Needless to say, Steve knows his was around the playing field. Yet much like Jack Dorsey, there was a quiet confidence in Papa’s persona. No chest thumpin’ or other Thump-isms, just simple honest ideas, opinions and facts. Strictly business—humble, human and with a smile.