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** Chris is the author of the #1 best selling business course on Udemy called "An Entire MBA in 1 Course." **
Business Insider wrote an article stating that 101 Crucial Lessons They Don't Teach You in Business School was voted as the #1 most popular business book this year by Business Insider readers.
Forbes magazine said that 101 Crucial Lessons They Don't Teach You in Business School is "1 of 6 books that all entrepreneurs must read right now" (along with " The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey, "The Lean Start-up" by Eric Ries, Peter Thiel's book "From Zero to One", and The Self Made Billionaire Effect.").
In this course you will learn how to get a meeting with anyone. You will learn how to take your career to the next level. You will learn how to reinvent yourself in ways that you never thought was possible! Chris Haroun has had the opportunity in his career to meet with the top CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors in the world, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Marc Benioff and the CEOs of most large technology companies. This book is an amalgamation of business advice that Chris has compiled from his many meetings with successful business people over the past two decades as well as observations of why brilliant entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg have become incredibly successful. Business schools do a good job of providing students with theoretical and practical frameworks that can be applicable to real world problems but often miss teaching students some of the most crucial business lessons like how to network, how to find customers or how to get a job!
Chris Haroun is an award winning business school professor, venture capitalist and author. He is currently a venture capitalist at a prominent San Francisco Bay Area venture capital firm and has previous work experience at Goldman Sachs, hedge fund giant Citadel, Accenture and several firms that he has founded. He has raised and has managed over $1 billion in his career.
Chris teaches many courses online at Udemy. He has an MBA in Finance from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Commerce Degree with a major in Management Information Systems and International Business from McGill University. Chris is also a frequent guest lecturer at several Bay Area business schools including Berkeley and Stanford. He is a McGill University Dobson Fellow. He has written numerous articles/been interviewed in Forbes, VentureBeat, Entrepreneur Magazine, Wired Magazine, AlleyWatch and Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK: Hong Kong's oldest and sole public service broadcaster). He serves on the boards of several Bay Area technology companies and charities. Chris Haroun is originally from Canada and currently lives in Hillsborough, California and enjoys playing baseball with his wife and three sons.
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|Section 1: Introduction + Relationships are More Important than Product Knowledge|
Forbes calls this book 1 of 6 books that all entrepreneurs must read right now (along with Peter Thiel's book and the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People). In this book you will learn how to get a meeting with anyone. You will learn how to take your career to the next level. You will learn how to reinvent yourself in ways that you never thought was possible! Chris Haroun has had the opportunity in his career to meet with the top CEOs, entrepreneurs and investors in the world, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Marc Benioff and the CEOs of most large technology companies. This book is an amalgamation of business advice that Chris has compiled from his many meetings with successful business people over the past two decades as well as observations of why brilliant entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg have become incredibly successful. Business schools do a good job of providing students with theoretical and practical frameworks that can be applicable to real world problems but often miss teaching students some of the most crucial business lessons like how to network, how to find customers or how to get a job!
Crucial Networking Tips to Make You More Successful
Many of us use iPhones and iPads and other Apple products because of one simple business and life strategy that Steve Jobs practiced from a very young age:
“Ask and you shall receive.” This short YouTube video will change your life (alternatively go to YouTube and search for “Steve Jobs Ask”): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkTf0LmDqKI
Steve Jobs never had issues reaching out and asking for help from strangers. You will be amazed how many people want to help you if you just ask! Fortunately, not many people do this.
When Steve Jobs was only 12 years old he called Bill Hewlett from Hewlett Packard. The young Steve Jobs asked Bill Hewlett if he could give Steve spare parts for a device that he was creating. Hewlett laughed and not only gave him the spare parts, but gave Steve Jobs a job!
Many of us are too shy or we think that it is outside of our comfort zone to ask for help, especially from strangers. Culturally it feels uncomfortable for many people to ask for help or ask strangers for something. You need to do this often.
So in this day and age of social media, how do we successfully ask for help? It’s much easier than you think. If you are not already a LinkedIn subscriber, please sign up for the premium version. Do an advanced search and find people with something in common with you. If you are from Bombay but live in the United States and live in New York, enter Bombay in LinkedIn and then the zip code that you live in. Then send an “inMail” message in LinkedIn with a very short message as follows:
Hope all is well. I am also from Bombay and I also live in New York. Please let me know if you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks.
Thanks a lot,
Hope all is well. I also went to McGill University and I also live in New York. Please let me know if you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks.
Thanks a lot,
Trust me – this works! My success rate on getting meetings with strangers using LinkedIn has always been very high. Why? Because I ask often and most people don’t.
This works exceptionally well. Please try it! It works because very few people do it. Too many people today use email which is why it is not an effective tool to set up meetings.
InMails work. Please try it. I promise you that you will be amazed at the outcome! Simply ask and you shall receive.
Be a contrarian and think different when it comes to getting a job. Everybody sends their resume to companies. Don’t do this as the odds of getting an interview are extraordinarily low.
How do I get a job then? Well it all comes down to the relationships that you already have or will have soon. What does that mean? It’s simple as all you need to do is set up informational meetings with as many people as you can at the companies you want to work at.
You are probably asking yourself this question: “That doesn’t make any sense. Why would someone want to meet with me anyway and how do I get these meetings?” It is simple. Use LinkedIn. We are covering using LinkedIn several times in this book as it is crucial that you leverage this social media gold mine (because most people don’t).
In the business school classes that I teach, I start off every first lecture with a simple question as follows: “If I told you that if you did at least 20 informational meetings with strangers at companies that you wanted to work at then you will get the job of your dreams. If this is the case, how many of you would set up these informational meetings?” Every single student lifts their hand in agreement. Then at the end of the 15 session course that I teach, I ask how many did 20+ informational meetings. Only 1 or 2 hands go up. Those that did the 20+ informational meetings all get jobs without exception.
So are you telling me Chris that if I set up 20 or more informational meetings that I will get a job? That’s right. Try it and you’ll amaze yourself.
Ok so once I get these meetings what should I do or say? Just be yourself. If the person you are meeting with is from your home town talk about your home town. If this person went to the same school as you did, simply talk about the school. Relationships are more important than product knowledge so the first half of the meeting should be an informal discussion about what you have in common with this person (i.e., the school you went to, where you are from etc.). Then during the second half of the meeting you should transition to a discussion of your career goals. Towards the end of the meeting you need to ask if the company is hiring. If not, ask when they will be and follow up at that point.
This strategy works but you need to meet with many people in order to see the results.
I recently had dinner with one of President Bush’s White House employees in the early 1990s. As I always do when I meet someone successful or that works with someone successful, I ask what makes that person successful. For President Bush, as it is with all successful politicians, it comes down to having superb relationships.
President Bush treats people like celebrities and celebrities like people. Learn as much as you can about people you meet by asking them questions. Let them talk about themselves and smile. Remember their names too. People love talking about themselves and they really appreciate it when you use their name often in conversations.
Treat all people you meet in business like good lifelong friends. Don’t jump right into business topics in a conversation. Always start with personal questions like how was your weekend, or do your children like their new school, or something that people love talking about, like their favorite sports teams etc. Treat everyone like they are your friends and treat people like celebrities and celebrities like people.
|Section 2: Be Long Term Greedy|
Use These Crucial Long Term Strategies and Watch Your Net Worth Soar
When I worked at Goldman Sachs my mentors would always tell me to “be long term greedy”. I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time but it makes perfect sense to me now, especially when it comes to investing.
I worked in the hedge fund industry for several years after leaving Goldman Sachs and I hated the industry because investors only rewarded you if you were successful with short term results. The problem with this approach is that you are often right for the wrong reasons and vice versa. Each month has only 20 business or trading days and each quarter has only 60 business or trading days. It is mathematically impossible to generate positive returns every quarter year after year after year.
The best investors have a long term outlook. In fact, before I do due diligence on any company as a potential investment candidate, I ask myself one very basic question:
“In 5 years will this company be more relevant or less relevant than it is today?”
Sounds pretty simple! It should be because the best investors see the forest from the trees and understand that investment trends last much longer than we think. I always ask myself this basic 5 year question before I do any due diligence on companies. Nobody is better at being a wise long term investor than Warren Buffett.
I remember when I was an MBA student at Columbia University in the late 1990s and Warren Buffett was teaching one of our classes on value investing. One of my classmates pitched a technology stock to him. He very politely interrupted 30 seconds after my classmate pitched the stock and said “Son thank you very much for the idea but I don’t have enough visibility where this company is going to be product cycle wise in 3, 5, 10 or 20 years.”
He was right as 6 months later the technology company my classmate was pitching went belly up; there is a reason Warren Buffett is called the Sage of Omaha.
Since I am a proud Canadian, I have to end this chapter with a quote from the greatest athlete ever, the great one (Wayne Gretzky). Gretzky was so incredibly successful because he didn’t skate to where the puck is. Rather, he had a longer term strategy as he skated to where the puck was going to be. Love that guy!
Give and you shall receive. This statement has been true since the beginning of time; those that are generous with their time and mentor others are much more successful than those that are not. Why? First of all it is the right thing to do as others helped you to get to where you are today, but by mentoring others you also reinforce your core beliefs and remind yourself what the drivers of success are.
I am honored to be on the board of a wonderful charity called the LEMO Foundation, whose mission is to eradicate poverty through scholarships to those that are less fortunate. LEMO’s core mission statement is brilliant:
“Don’t expect to accomplish your goals unless you help others accomplish theirs.”
I love this concept! Some call it karma and others call it paying it forward. Everyone should seek mentors and mentor others; you will be much more successful in the long run if you practice what you preach.
When you first think of an incredibly ambitious goal, you are so fired up and excited to start the journey. Before you start the journey you can clearly see the top of the mountain, which is a metaphor for your goal.
Once you embark upon your journey you are full of energy and excitement as with each step you get closer and closer to your goal. Then much later in the journey you become frustrated as you can no longer see the top of the mountain. As a result, your pace deviates a bit and is perhaps slower than it once was.
You wonder what happened to my goal? Why can’t I see the top of the mountain anymore anyway? Well the reason is simple; the reason is that you are half way up the mountain and your goal is within reach. Finish what you started and reap the rewards. Be long term greedy and realize the harder you work, the luckier you get.
Don’t be cheap when it comes to education and self-improvement. You are your biggest investment. Continuous improvement is of paramount importance when it comes to your success in business or life in general.
Spend more than you think you can afford on education, including university degrees, online education, books, audio books, podcasts etc. Whatever it takes. You do have time to read. Yes you do; you can listen to audio books or listen to online lectures. If you have Wi-Fi and a stationary bike at home you can watch online courses at Udemy.com for example.
Be a voracious reader. Read as many books as you can on successful business people. What are their secrets? Learn from them and watch your career take off.
|Section 3: Avoid Burnout|
Avoid these Crucial Land Mines and Save your Career (and Your Life)
One of the best pieces of advice I have received in my life was from a client at Manulife Financial when I worked at Goldman Sachs. She told that the second you return from your vacation, open your calendar and look out 6 months and book your next vacation.
Of course I didn’t take this advice as I was in my 20s and felt like I had endless energy. Then I hit a wall and became incredibly unproductive. I had worked too many weekends and too many hours per day. In hindsight all I needed to do was take a few weekends off and a whole week every 6 months.
When you work too hard without taking breaks you burnout and become incredibly unproductive. If you work for 3 months, for example, around the clock without many breaks, then I am a firm believer that it will take you more than 3 months to “unburnout”. The results can be catastrophic for your career and even your personal life. Pace yourself and take breaks often.
As humans we are only supposed to be incredibly stressed out when we are fighting for our lives. We were not meant to have heart attacks because of non-violent means.
When a lion is chasing a gazelle, the gazelle’s physiology dramatically changes. The gazelle’s heart is pumping very fast as it runs as fast as it can to survive. The gazelle’s body uses every ounce of energy to focus on surviving. Other bodily functions temporarily cease working as it tries to outrun the lion. The gazelle’s immune system shuts down. The gazelle’s reproductive system shuts down. The gazelle actually ages in the process.
Similarly, when we feel too much stress at work and don’t treat our systems the way we should, we get sick much easier, we gain weight much faster, our heart can stop working and even our reproductive capacities are adversely impacted.
I have several friends that couldn’t seem to conceive. As a couple they became so incredibly stressed out with their perceived conceiving issues that they stopped trying and adopted wonderful children. Shortly after adoption, they had no problems conceiving because they were no longer stressed out.
Stress will kill you; don’t be the gazelle. See stress as a challenge and not as a threat. Learn to take breaks. Don’t walk into the propeller. Hakuna matata! : )
We tend to take sick days because we are physically under the weather. We need to also take at least one day off per year when we are temporarily ‘mentally under the weather’. This is usually caused by overexertion and not taking enough breaks.
Why should we take that day off? Because if you are too stressed out, you might have a short temper and upset your coworkers or customers. If you are overly stressed, take a day off. Your career will thank you and remember to pace yourself and take breaks often enough so that you don’t need to miss work too often.
In several religions, one of the ten rules is to rest on the 7th day. Our ancestors knew about burnout thousands of years ago! You need to take off at least one day per week.
Since my 30s I have not allowed myself to check my work email on Sundays. In fact, I have taught my kids to give me crap if I work on Sunday. They are helping me to not get burned out. Family always comes first, especially on Sundays for me.
Hopefully your partners, supervisors or clients all have children and spend time with their families on the weekend instead of working. If not, you should very politely and politically let them know that your family comes first on weekends (especially Sunday). Heck you come first on Sundays too; relax and recover. You deserve it!
|Section 4: Create Off the Charts Confidence; Wear that Superman Cape!|
Crucial Confidence Lessons to Help Your Career Take Off!
Whether or not you think you can, you are correct. You need to accept the fact that if you want to be the CEO of the company you are working at, it’s not hard to do unless you tell yourself it is. It doesn’t matter what level you are at either as there are countless examples of people that have started in the mail room and then risen to become CEO. Don’t be negative. I promise you that you can become the CEO regardless of your education or rank at the company.
Similarly, you can start any company you want to and disrupt an entire industry regardless of your education. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs don’t have university degrees. What they have is an unquenchable thirst to leave a dent in the universe. Believe in yourself and you can accomplish any goals you want to in business.We can sometimes overestimate what we can accomplish in a year but we ALWAYS massively underestimate what we can accomplish in a decade. There are no limits to what you can achieve in business except the ones that you personally set. Whether or not you think you can, you are correct (that was worth repeating).
In every challenging business situation, it is imperative that you see challenge as an opportunity. I am a firm believer that with crisis comes opportunity. Rise to the occasion when a crisis emerges
Condition yourself to embrace change and enjoy difficult situations. This will help you deal with the perceived stress and profit from adversity. Always ask yourself in business “what is positive about this event and how can I enjoy and benefit from it?” If you hate an uncompromising situation or position you are in, meditate on the issue and condition yourself to accept the fact that the end result from this situation will be very positive for you if you achieve ‘X’. Focus on X and make it come to reality.
The belief that anything is possible leads to amazing accomplishments.
The glass is not empty.
The glass not half empty.
The glass is not half full.
The glass is ALWAYS full!
Don’t let the bastards get you down. That’s right. If you can, going forward disassociate yourself with negative people. Friends with negative attitudes are not worth having. Surround yourself with positive people that believe there are no limits to what they and you can achieve. Surround yourself with people that are incredibly successful as their success, confidence and positive outlook on business and life will rub off on you and vice versa.
Surround yourself with positive people and the chances of you being extraordinarily successful rises 1,000,000%. I have never met a successful entrepreneur, investor or CEO that doesn’t have a positive attitude. Richard Branson is the quintessential example of a positive role model. I believe that his cheerful and positive outlook in life and business is the primary reason for his incredible success. His positive attitude is the cornerstone of the happy and positive corporate culture at all of his Virgin companies. Try flying Virgin America or Virgin Atlantic or one day Virgin Galactic and observe how amazing the attitude is of all of his employees. A company with an incredibly positive corporate culture will no doubt be much more successful than a company filled with negative people. A negative person would never consider launching a galactic service or taking on the airline industry. Richard Branson clearly avoids hiring “those” people.
|Section 5: Ethics; Use It or Lose It!|
Crucial Ethics Lessons to Keep You Out of Trouble
Always be 100% transparent in business, especially with the risks of the product or service you are selling. I tell my investors and customers what the risks are of investing in my products or services within 5 minutes of our first meeting. It’s the right and ethical thing to do. It also leads to trust which is of paramount importance in business.
Disclose all risks to your clients or prospective clients before doing business with them. To state the obvious, they will be incredibly upset if you don’t as they will always find out the risks at some point, which could result in painful litigation. The only reason you might not offer 100% disclosure is in the rare situation when you can’t divulge an issue due to confidentiality reasons. If this is the case and if the investment or product/service has significant risks that outweigh the potential returns, then don’t sell the product/service. Life is too short to destroy your reputation and compromise your values.
When I worked at a large hedge fund called Citadel, management hired 25 year CIA and FBI veterans to teach us how to tell if a CEO is lying to us. Here are some of the key takeaways:
1: A liar often gives long winded answers to a simple yes or no question.
2: A liar often does not make eye contact when answering a question and the answer contains a lie (unless this is their normal demeanor).
3: A liar often puts their hand on their mouth when answering a question with a lie.
4: A liar often shakes his or her foot when answering a question with a lie (unless they drink too much coffee)!
|Section 6: Every Battle is Won Before it has Been Fought…|
Crucial Battle Preparation Lessons
Always over prepare, especially for job interviews. If your competition likely only spends 5 hours preparing for a meeting then spend 50 hours preparing. If your competition spends 10 hours preparing for a meeting, spend 100 hours.
Every battle is won before it has been fought. Be ready. Bring many exhibits to meetings and leave them in your briefcase. Pull them out of your briefcase if you need to show them as exhibits. I have done this many times in interviews and have often gotten hired because of this. Anticipate what questions the interviewer asks you before the interview.
When I had my interviews for MBA school and at Goldman Sachs, I completely over prepared. I wrote down over 100 questions that I thought they might ask me and then I recorded myself answering the questions. Did my voice sound too monotone? Did I sound over confident? Did I sound nervous (no way)? Were my answers short enough? Did my answers sound interested and engaging? Etc.
A friend of mine at Stanford was one of the early venture capital investors in Facebook. Of course I asked her why she was successful in winning the investment mandate in Facebook. Her response was that she over prepared for the meeting with Mark Zuckerberg. She brought 3 term sheets (contracts) to the meeting with 3 different dollar values and terms. She gauged his level of criteria for the investment mandate and was able to pull out the term sheet with the terms that Zuckerberg was asking for. Her competition only brought 1 term sheet each. As a result, she won the investment mandate and made a fortune.
|Section 7: Goal Setting|
Follow these Crucial Steps and Achieve Your Dreams
If something scared the heck out of you in business, chances are it also scares your competition. As a result, run to your fears. Don’t get too comfortable in life. Always challenge yourself and focus on continuous improvement.
When I was younger I was terrified of public speaking. This fear was holding me back and stopping me from growing professionally. I then did something radically different and incredibly uncomfortable. I thought how can I challenge myself to conquer this fear while helping people? I decided to volunteer with my church and go into the prison system here in the Bay Area and help mentor inmates that were incarcerated for minor drug offenses. I don’t do drugs but I feel bad for these young people that didn’t have parents or positive role models growing up and, as a result, committed a minor crime and are in jail; this could have been me had I not had two wonderful parents raising me.
I remember the first day I went into the Maguire Correctional facility in Redwood City. I was terrified while presenting to a just a few inmates. I remember one of them had a tattoo above his upper lip that said #&@# you! I thought WTF, which means why the face : ) and how the heck am I going to get through this? It was uncomfortable the first time, but I came back again and again and again and I got used to it.
The seminal moment that helped me to conquer my fear of public speaking was the time I showed up at the prison on a Sunday and the priest that was supposed to conduct mass and give the speech before communion didn’t show up! I was told by the warden that I must be the Eucharistic minister and give a 20 minute speech to the inmates. I was so terrified. The speech according to the Gospel lesson was supposed to be about faith, hope and confidence in yourself. I stood up there in front of many incredibly intimidating inmates and started speaking. I was able to wing it and a few minutes later I started enjoying it! I will never forget this moment as I told them this: “Do you believe in God?” They all said yes. I then said “Does God believe in you?” The all said yes. I then closed the circular logic by saying “Well if you don’t believe in yourself then do you really believe in….?” They were blown away and speechless as was I.
I was able to conquer my fear of public speaking forever and I now thrive and really look forward to public speaking and being on panels. Who knew that my biggest fear in life would become my biggest source of enjoyment! Please run towards your business fears as your competition will not.
We need to change the lens for which we see the world.
You need to write down your business goals. If you do, the chances of you realizing them rises materially and most of your competitors don’t do this anyway.
In 1953 there was a famous study conducted at Yale University. The graduating class was asked if they had written down their goals. Only 3% had done so. Then 20 years later, a poll was taken and the graduating students from the class of 1953 were asked what their net worth was. The net worth of the 3% that had written down their goals was greater than the other 97% combined!
Write down your goals on the back of a business card and carry it around with you. If you don’t carry a wallet, then write down your goals in your smart phone’s calendar and have this calendar entry be repeated daily.Tell your friends or family members what your long term goals are so that it forces you to work towards them and think of your goals often. Consider writing your goals down on paper and then placing them in a sealed and stamped envelope with your address on the envelope. Then give the envelope to a good friend or family member and tell them to mail the letter in 6 months or 1 year.
Many readers of this book have undergraduate degrees that might have covered many business topics. Should you bother getting a graduate business or law or engineering or other degrees? Only if you need another degree in order to change careers. Only if getting a graduate degree will likely get you closer to your goals.
Do I need to get the best grades and standardized test scores to get into a great school? Heck no! Please take my Udemycourse on getting into the top MBA schools for tips on how to get in.
|Section 8: Happiness is…|
[It is Crucial that you] “Find an Occupation You Love and You'll Never Work a Day in Your Life.’
Laugh at your failures and shortfalls and you will enjoy your profession and live a much longer happier life! Self-deprecation is an admirable trait. Find humor in all stressful situations. This instantly change your state and will help you to focus on turning a crisis into an opportunity.
Comedy is often a result of tragedy plus time. With your business career truncate the time and find humor in your shortcomings immediately. Rather than be depressed given a perceived failure, smile and cheer up because your future incredible success in business is a result of that failure. You will be grateful later in life that you”failed”.
There are so many amazing examples of executives that have failed or have been fired which forced them to realize their dreams by starting their own company. Frustration often leads to breakthroughs in your career.
Here are some incredibly inspirational examples of people that were fired. Thank goodness they were or we wouldn’t enjoy the benefits of their future business empire creations:
All these amazing people lost their jobs because of a lack of passion for being someone else’s bitch (sorry about the strong language but I want to make a point). They then became incredibly successful because they focused on their passion.
Find out what your passion is and what you were put on this planet to do. What is your calling? What is your raison d’être? Find your passion and you will always be happy in business and in life. If you feel suffocated in your current job, then find your passion, write a business plan and quit.
When I started my second company, I was stressed out and I took a drive alone down the beautiful California coast. I stopped by Carmel and I went for a long walk as I often do to come up with personal and professional goals. I stopped by a beautiful old church and I sat down and collected my thoughts.
A priest was there and sat down next to me. We spoke for a while about what I was trying to accomplish in life. I mentioned that I wanted to make as much money as possible so that I could give my children the standard of living that I wanted them to have. What he told me that day was incredibly prophetic and just what I needed to hear:
“Chris, 50 years from now your children will not look back on you and remember how much money you made. They will look back and reflect how good of a father you were.”
I was blown away by his comment and I thanked him profusely for imparting this incredible wisdom on me. I now know in my heart that money does not equal happiness. Please don’t make it your primary goal. Find your passion in life and the money will come whether you want it to or not! Then you can focus on giving it away and making the world a better place.
I have seen money destroy friendships and families so many times. Money can destroy your relationship with many people including your children. Give most of your money away to charities and only keep enough to keep your family happy as counterintuitive as that might sound.
|Section 9: Legal Stuff is Important|
Crucial Lessons on Protecting Your Family and Yourself
When you start a company you need to protect your family. Don’t set your company up as a sole proprietorship. Rather, set it up as a Limited Liability Company (LLC). Setting up an LLC is not expensive and if for some crazy reason your company gets sued, then the liabilities are limited to the assets of the company and not your house.
If you are working for someone else, you need to have a contract that clearly outlines your compensation structure in case you get hit by a bus. This way your family is taken care of.
I know that this sounds like common sense, but sometimes we are so focused on building our careers and our companies that we forget about protecting those that we love.
|Section 10: Management Best Practices|
The Most Crucial Business Revelation is that Ideas are Commodities. Execution is Not.
Most managers don’t offer enough positive feedback to employees and most managers take the wrong approach when criticizing employees.
There is a CEO named Godfrey Sullivan of a very successful Silicon Valley company called Splunk. One of the many reasons the company has seen torrid growth over the past few years is because of the superb management style of Mr. Sullivan. His genius is that he always praises his employees in public and when he needs to offer constructive criticism he does this in private and one on one. This has led to the creation of one of the best corporate cultures in the history of the software sector.
Take as much time as you can figuring out who to hire. Obviously make sure they are qualified. Make sure that they fit in with your corporate culture. Make sure that they are team players. Make sure that each of your employees that will work with the person you are hiring meets with them at least 3 times and in different settings (i.e., your office, then a coffee shop and then a restaurant).
It’s important that you don’t ask for references as this process is ridiculous. Who in the world would give references for people that will say bad stuff about them anyway! Rather, find your own references, which includes companies the candidate has worked at before or contacts that you have in common with the candidate in LinkedIn etc.
You need to fire quickly. If you let a disgruntled employee stick around for too long then, then he or she will destroy your corporate culture; a small leak can sink a great ship.
The best way to let somebody go is to sit down with them and start by giving them a genuine complement on their accomplishments. Then tell them that they are being let go in 2 sentences or less and the reason(s) why. Then pause to see what their reaction is. Less is more. You don’t need to sound apologetic at all. The first time you let someone go is always the hardest but it gets a lot easier (unfortunately). If necessary, have a security guard be present if the employee seems incredibly erratic, which is rare. Quite often you will be helping this person out in the long run (please see the section titled Laugh at Your Failures).
A colleague of mine on Wall Street once told me that “you’re not a real person until you have been fired!” It has happened to me before despite the fact that I made the firm a lot of money. Unfortunately resentment from your boss can be an issue if you do your job too well! If that’s the case, start your own company. When it happened to me I gave him a hug and remained incredibly professional as I knew that he would be a reference for my next gig. Remember to always be unemotional about business and be long term greedy. It was actually the best thing that ever happened to me in business as it forced me to focus on my passion and not work.
|Section 11: Navigating Corporate Politics; Swimming with Sharks|
Crucial Lessons on Navigating Corporate Politics
My father used to tell me that if he is ever upset and writes a critical letter (which is rare for him), then don’t mail it that day. Rather, put it in your drawer before you go to sleep. When you wake up the next morning, if you still feel like mailing the letter then get it from the drawer and drop it in the post.
The same strategy should be used today. If you are in a bad mood or if you are not sure if your tone will be misunderstood when composing an email or a text, then save it as a draft or consider sending it the following day when you are in a different state of mind. It is so easy to hurt your career if you react on impulse with messages and you aren’t thinking clearly; one misread or mistaken message can ruin your career; we live in interesting digital times.
I used to get sensitive and upset when others would criticize or insult me. I don’t let this bother me anymore. In fact the more successful in life you get, the more this will happen to you. How should you react? Well first of all I hope this happens to you more often because it is a reflection of your success. You want this to happen more often as it is incredibly flattering. Your coworkers might develop a more condescending tone with you over the years the more successful you become as well. You almost want to reach out and thank them for the disguised complement! Don’t worry because they just feel threatened by you which is a euphemism for a huge complement.
Successful people are criticized all the time. The ones that are the happiest and have the best peace of mind are those that see criticism as nothing more than a disguised complement. So bring it on doubters! : )
I have had many friends in the companies that I have worked at that have gotten fired. They could have avoided this by implementing the career best practice process of meeting every month or two with their supervisor and asking for feedback.
You need to ask for feedback from your boss in a one on one setting often. She or he will help to guide you to stay on the path to success. Ask what you need to do to add more value to the team or what you need to accomplish before getting promoted or before getting a raise.
If you don’t ask for feedback often, then communication will break down and you could lose your job. Most people are surprised when they get fired. Over communicate when it comes to this topic.
As counterintuitive as this might sound, you need to ask to get promoted. You also need to ask to get a raise. Most successful businesspeople that get promoted often and rise to the top asked to get to that level. It’s very true.
You will get passed over for a promotion or a raise if you don’t ask for it. Similar to the Steve Jobs chapter on asking, you need to ask for everything you want in life. Nobody is going to give you what you want unless you ask for it.
Your supervisor should be cool with this as she or he knows that you are trying to provide for your family. They have been in that position before too! In fact, they probably got promoted to their level because they asked.
If you feel very uncomfortable with this (you shouldn’t), then phrase the question like this “I love working here and I love the team too. Can you please let me know what I need to accomplish or what value I need to add in order to get promoted or a raise?” Then once you achieve the goals or benchmarks that your supervisor gives you in response to your question, then remind him or her of your accomplishment after you achieve them and you will get the raise. It goes without saying that you should only approach your boss with this conversation when they are in a good mood or positive state.
|Section 12: Only Take Advice from Successful People|
It is Crucial that You Take Advice from the Right People
You need many Yodas in your life and in your career. You need mentors and you need to mentor others in order to reinforce what your core beliefs or critical success factors are.
Make sure that your Yodas (or mentors) are in a position that you want to be in one day. Are they successful professionally? Are they successful personally? Did they achieve a great work/life balance? Are some of their past accomplishments your future goals? Can you trust them? Do you enjoy their company? Can they offer you constructive criticism so that they can help you to seek continuous improvement?
It is extraordinarily rare for an executive to rise to the top of any organization or for any entrepreneur to be wildly successful without many mentors. Hewlett mentored Steve Jobs and Steve Jobs mentored Marc Benioff from Salesforce, which is now the largest employer in San Francisco.
People are flattered when you ask them to mentor you. They always say yes when you ask them. Ask and you shall receive mentors. They will help you achieve your goals in life.
When you invest in companies or industries or sectors, a simple successful approach is to follow the smart money. Warren Buffett is incredibly successful so let’s invest in some of the companies that he does.
I know that this section seems like common sense but if you invest in companies that smart money investors invest in then you will more often than not have a winning investing strategy.
Always be skeptical when a friend or a businessperson asks you to invest in a company that no name investors have already invested in. If you are in a situation like this, ask yourself a basic question which is “Why am I so lucky to be given this opportunity?” The reason, unfortunately, is because the smart money passed on this investment. You should pass on this investment as well.
|Section 13: Only the Paranoid Survive|
It is Crucial to Be Paranoid About these Issues….
If you are ever considering leaving your company for any reason at some point, including to pursue a graduate degree, keep it to yourself. Why? Because most businesses are highly cyclical and during the next economic downturn management will need to let people go. The sharks will remind management that you aren’t that committed because you were considering leaving to attend graduate school.
Large organizations tend to over hire and over fire; they often cut into muscle. If you give your boss or anyone the impression that you are not 100% long term committed then once the layoffs start, you are at risk. Keep it to yourself and your family/close friends if you are applying to business school or planning to leave the company to get another degree. Hopefully you start your graduate degree when a recession is starting as this is always the best time to be in school.
You need to question everyone’s motives in business. When you see financial pundits on television, they are there because they are pitching their product, service or “talking their book” which means they are pimping their stocks because they want you to buy them and drive up their net worth.
If you understand the actions of your competitors or your peers or your supervisors, then you will understand the purpose of their actions better and be able to appropriately react. I am not recommending that you be cynical in life, but understanding the motive of a business person’s action will help you make better business decisions.
For example, are they overselling their products or services to me because they are at risk of missing their quarterly quotas? If so, I can squeeze them on margins and get a better price. Simply put yourself in their shoes and try to understand their actions so you can react accordingly.
|Section 14: Risk Taking|
It is Crucial that You Take the Right Kinds of Risks
It’s important to take on a lot of career risk when you are younger and don’t have kids. You can always recover quickly and bounce back. Potential employers might respect the fact that you are a self-starter, proactive and confident enough in your abilities to take a risk.
If you are young and you take a risk and fail then consider going to business school or at least applying once you start your company in order to have a backup plan. If you are not young and you start a company then give it 1-2 years max. If it doesn’t succeed by then then you should consider failing fast and moving on to your plan B. Don’t be emotionally attached to your company if you can’t achiever your goals. Don’t worry as you can always start another company at some point in your life. Success is merely a result of multiple perceived failures.
I am a firm believer that you should never invest in a company when all the founders have resigned, especially in the technology sector. 99% of the time in tech, when a founder resigns, investors should run for the exits.
Founders don’t care about corporate politics or bureaucracy; they get stuff done and they correctly don’t give a damn what other people think. When a founder resigns, then politics take over. Executives are motivated by the ability to climb the corporate ladder. Executives are often politicians as they are all talk with no substance. Executives often feel that it doesn’t make sense to take a risk and innovate with a new product because if they fail then their career is done and if they succeed then they aren’t going to get paid anyway!
A company’s success is based on the culture that the founder has created. If she or he resigns, then the culture will eventually become diluted and style drift will set in as will complacency. The company will then spin into an irreversible terminal secular decline.
For more details on this topic please go to www.VentureBeat.com and check out the article that I wrote on this topic including examples of companies that are successful because the founder(s) is(are) still there, including Amazon, Google and Salesforce.
|Section 15: Sales Best Practices|
The Best CEOs are the Best Salespeople. Learn these Crucial Sales Secrets.
Steve Jobs was the quintessential communicator and entrepreneur. He firmly believed that for a product or idea to be widely adopted, it needed to have a simplistic design. The iPhone and iPad have only one button. His presentations usually have 3 bullet points or 3 images per slide and that’s all.
In this day and age we are so inundated with information that 144 character bottom line summaries are more relevant than lengthy write-ups. This is why Twitter has been so incredibly successful. The best business model presentations that I see as a venture capitalist have a maximum of 10 slides with only 3 bullet points per slide; less is more works.
Executives and potential investors have extraordinarily short attention spans in this day and age given the many screens that we are addicted to like smart phones, tablets, laptops, watches etc. You need to get your point across in as few words as possible.
Pretend that each message that you send costs you $100 per word. With this in mind you will definitely embrace the winning methodology of less is more.
For help on how to fundraise or how to build financial models using the less is more methodology, please take my Udemy courses on the aforementioned subjects.
One of the most important skillsets that most business schools don’t teach is how to give effective presentations. Effective presentations are ones where the presenter is speaking from the heart, with high energy and will a lot of passion! Watch Ted Talks or YouTube presentations by Steve Jobs or Marc Benioff or Ronald Reagan or Barrack Obama for superb examples of how to present.
Each slide needs to have as little information as possible on it as possible. Remember that less is always more. You also need to use your hands a lot, make eye contact with everyone in the audience and use long pregnant pauses after you say something that is important.
Don’t ever present for more than 10 minutes without a video, a funny image or a break as we can’t pay attention for long periods of time; there is a reason that Ted Talks are less than 15 minutes.
Don’t read a script. Rather, go off script and speak right from the heart. Story telling works, especially ones where you have a hero (your product) and a villain (the competitor’s products). Apple is very effective with this; recall the “I am a Mac and I am a PC” commercials.
For help on how to present with passion and enjoy public speaking, please take my Udemy course on presentations.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in sales is that they oversell. If you do this, your buyer will think that there is something wrong with your product or that you are desperate to make the sale; caveat emptor. Once you think that the buyer wants the product then stop talking.
If you oversell then the buyer might see blood in the water and talk your pricing point down and destroy your margins or commissions. More than often they will simply not buy your product.
Remember that your product or service is so awesome that you don’t need this sale anyway as you are selling a premium product that commands higher prices than the competition. How many commercials do you recall seeing for premium products like Tiffany’s or Coach versus McDonald’s or Wal-Mart?
Your customer needs your product and you are helping them by giving them the opportunity to purchase the product. Don’t ever oversell. Once you sense that they are committed to purchasing your product, simply shut up.
Don’t waste your time trying to get small clients. Elephant hunt. You will find that small customers are just as much work and often more work than large customers!
Why is this the case? Smaller customers usually have less disposable income and, as a result, are more likely to want to return the product or pester you with too many customer support questions. Larger clients, by contrast, can be more sophisticated so they require less customer support and they also likely have less of their net worth invested in your product.
Don’t get me wrong as you need to respect and appreciate all customers in business, but your time is valuable and it would be nice to spend less time servicing smaller customers and more time working on new leads or more time with your family. Life is too short.
|Section 16: Think Different|
Crucial Highly Profitable Differentiation Strategies
Warren Buffett famously said “be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy.” Buffett has made billions doing the opposite of what other investors do! It’s not rocket science: if everybody is buying a stock, then the price is too high and you won’t make money; the converse is of course true as well.
I tell my kids the same things when it comes to their baseball cards. I tell them to sell them when everybody wants them and buy the great players’ cards when nobody wants them. I was proud of my son when he sold a Chris Bryant rookie card for $25. I wish I had done the same when I was young with my cards!
The same lesson can be applied with any investment in life. Please be patient as I promise you will likely have a chance at some point to buy the investment that you want to buy at a cheaper pricing point. The same can be said for any product you buy online; just be patient and wait for it to go on sale!
The best investments and companies to start are the ones that have the largest total addressable markets or T.A.Ms. Don’t ever start a company that has a small T.A.M. because in the highly unlikely event that you capture 95% of this market, you won’t be putting a dent in the universe.
So what are the best types of companies to start or invest in (assuming the management team is stellar)? Platforms rock. Platforms are the best investments you can make. What some examples of platforms? EBay is the largest auction platform. Microsoft Windows is the largest computing platform. LinkedIn is the largest human resources platform. Facebook is the largest consumer social media platform. Uber is the largest taxi platform. Airbnb is the largest hotel platform. Salesforce is the largest customer relationship management cloud platform. Udemy is the largest online education platform.
The best investments are the ones where the company owns the roads and the users or customers are like tollbooths or autos. Let the users do the hard work of building out the platform.
|Section 17: You Be You!|
It is Crucial to Find YOUR Passion
Behind almost every single successful business person is a great spouse. You are a team and you have likely only gotten to where you are in life because of their mentoring. Listen to them and thank them often. I often read my emails that I am composing to my wife Christine before sending them. Her feedback always rocks.
Your spouse knows what makes you happy in business. Remind them often what your business passions are. In return, they will remind you what you love in life and reinforce and hence help guide and remind you what you are on this earth to accomplish in business. What is your purpose?
Your spouse is your ultimate confidant and life coach. Only your spouse can tell you if what you are wearing went out of style 80 years ago! Only your spouse can tell you that you sound too arrogant when practicing a corporate presentation. Only your spouse can remind you why you wanted to work in the industry you work in. Only your spouse can help you achieve your long term goals. So thank your spouse often as you will never get a better life coach.
I know that the type of person that is reading this book is always focused on continuous improvement. I know that the type of person that is reading this book has high expectations and lofty goals. I know that the type of person that is reading this book spends way more time helping other people and not themselves.
Please take time for yourself too; help yourself. Enjoy the finer things in life that bring joy to your life. Why would I write that in a book on business lessons? Because if you are happy personally then you will be much more successful professionally and you will set much higher goals. It is important that you stop to smell the roses every now and then.
If you have a high level of professional frustration in your life then this is a gift to you. It’s a gift to you because you are not professionally doing what you are most passionate about.
It’s perfectly normal to be frustrated in business. The fun part is figuring out what you love doing in life and what your business purpose is in life. What were you put on this earth to accomplish professionally? How many lives could you help improve if you accomplished your business goals? What would it take for you to no longer feel professionally frustrated?
Frustration leads to breakthroughs.
Frustration leads to reinvention.
Find your professional passion and end your frustration; welcome to the new you.
|Section 18: Concluding Remarks|
Thank you. I hope you have enjoyed 101 Crucial Lessons they Don’t Teach You in Business School by Chris Haroun.
If you are interested in taking more online courses taught by Chris Haroun please visit: www.Udemy.com/user/chris-haroun/.
If you would like to receive articles and blogs written by Chris Haroun or if you are interested in having Chris as a guest speaker at your school, charity or company, please contact or submit your email address at: www.BusinessCareerCoaching.com.
|Section 19: Bonus Lecture: Coupons/Discounts on Other Courses I Teach|
On Amazon.com: "101 Crucial Lessons They Don't Teach you in Business School"
Bonus Lecture: Coupons/Discounts on Other Courses I Teach
** Chris is the author of the #1 best selling business course on Udemy called "An Entire MBA in 1 Course," which has been purchased by more than 50,000 students in 187 countries so far in 2016 in 7 languages. ** He has also published 25 other courses on Udemy.
** According to Business Insider "Haroun is one of the highest rated professors on Udemy, so you can expect to be in good hands through the course of your education." **
Chris is also the author of the book "101 Crucial Lessons They Don't Teach You in Business School," which Business Insider wrote is "the most popular book of 2016 according to Business Insider readers." In 2015 Forbes called this book "1 of 6 books that all entrepreneurs must read right now."
Chris is also the founder and CEO of Haroun Education Ventures, which has 3 areas of focus: 1: Edtech Venture Capital, 2: Education Charities and 3: Education Online Business & Self Development Courses. In addition he is an award winning business school professor, MBA graduate from Columbia University and former Goldman Sachs employee. He has raised/managed over $1bn in his career.
Chris is passionate about educational charities and he is on the board of directors of several tech companies and ‘The Lemo Foundation’, which offers scholarships and mentoring to East Palo Alto students where the high school graduation rate is only 40%. He is also on the board of Providing Opportunities for Women (P.O.W.) which was founded by a few of his business school students.
He also has work experience at hedge fund giant Citadel, consulting firm Accenture & several firms that he has started, including an investment firm that had a venture capital investment in Facebook several years before the Facebook IPO.
He is a a frequent lecturer at several Bay Area business schools including Berkeley, Stanford, The Hult International School of Business and San Francisco State University. Chris also has an undergraduate degree with a major in Management Information Systems and International Business from McGill University where he is a McGill University Dobson Fellow (awarded for his work mentoring McGill students with venture capital start up business models).
Chris has written numerous articles and has been interviewed or profiled in Forbes, Business Insider, Entrepreneur Magazine, VentureBeat, Wired Magazine, AlleyWatch and several television, podcast and radio interviews, including one with Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) which is Hong Kong's oldest and sole public service broadcaster. He has his own entrepreneurship column in Inc. magazine.
Chris Haroun's goals are:
1: Access: To help make education accessible and affordable to every person in every country (and without firewalls) by investing in disruptive edtech companies through his company (Haroun Education Ventures).
2: Give: If you work for a charity, Chris is more than happy to give you all of his online business and self development courses for free to every employee at every charity in the world; simply send him a LinkedIn message and he will send you coupons for all of his courses at 100% off.
3: Edutainment: His passion is to "make business education impactful and entertaining with no boring theory; edutainment works!"
Chris is very passionate about education, education related charities and edtech start-ups/companies as he believes that all problems in the world can be solved via education. He lives in Hillsborough, California with his wife Christine and 3 sons who are also passionate about baseball…especially the Toronto Blue Jays! : )