Auren Hoffman

This post was originally published on Medium. I’m moving it here for linking purposes. 

Auren Hoffman joined Erik Torenberg on the Product Hunt podcast and here are 3 things I learned.

1/ Timing is a variable in the success equation. “If you’re 6 people, a false positive is so destructive to your company that hiring somebody really bad can be a really real bad thing…when you’re 200 people it’s not nearly as destructive.” “None of your listeners should take advice from me on investing…I’ve been a very active investor in the last eight years, and if you were a very active investor, in the valley, 100% of them did really well.”

Hoffman’s humility here (and throughout the interview) demonstrates objective observations.

In the success equation it’s crucial to figure out what happened because of your “genius,” and what happened because of “rising tides.”

Daymond John said he launched FUBU (effort) on the hip hop tide (timing).

Chris Dixon noted that some startups fail because a tsunami strikes the harbor. “Some reasonable percentage of the time the entrepreneur does everything right and things happen.”

The valuable part is to figure out how much of your success (or failure) was your timing and not lucky timing.

2/ Invisible scripts and default options. “A lot of people spend more time thinking about what restaurant to go to tonight rather than if they should go to college.” “People should affirmatively choose to go to college … The default position for too many people is to go to college, and I think in society we have too many default positions.” Hoffman adds this caution applies to marriage and kids too.

How do you see these invisible scripts? Flip them upside down.

Venkatesh Rao told Dan Andrews that reversing our point of view garbles existing scripts. Look at things upside down.

Or backwards. “One easier way to figure out what your strengths are is to figure out what they aren’t,” said Hoffman. Tren Griffin said that if you want to have a good marriage, be someone who is good to be married to.

Or anthropomorphic. Benjamin Graham compared the stock market to a bipolar “Mr. Market,” that Warren Buffett says is the best part of Graham’s book The Intelligent Investor.

3/ Creating Company Culture. “Culture is something that your company does that other companies like you don’t do.” “You don’t need to recruit everyone in the world, if you can appeal to just 1% to come work for you that’s good enough.”

Yoga is not culture. Culture is a weapon, sometimes a self harming one.

One main theme of failed startups — in my survivorship bias project was hostile culture. Good culture meant focus and responsibility.

When he was on Product Hunt, Josh Kopelman noted that there’s no “virality dust,” and the same is true for culture. It has to be baked in.

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