Notes on Fred Wilson’s Blog

I’ve written about AVC before, and I’m pretty sure this is going to become a regular thing as I process my learning from a source that has been consistently useful and enlightening.

Here’s a quote I like from March 16, 2017:

I love it when companies quickly get into a market, start delivering a product or service, and then, over time iterate on their products and services to expand the market and their share of it. Contrast that with a company spending years getting something right before shipping their first product. I much prefer the ship quickly, get customers, and iterate and automate approach.

And here’s a post about Disqus (from March 22, 2017) wherein Fred tells a business growth story fueled by a company’s ability to adapt more quickly than its bigger competitors. Additionally, he explains, in pure shorthand of course, that he invested in Disqus when he finally understood it properly: it was “a network, not a utility.”

Fred’s blog, I’m learning, is telling a consistent story as that story unfolds — i.e., what it means to live and work (and thrive) in a networked age.

Reading Fred Wilson Daily

A few weeks ago, I subscribed to Fred Wilson’s daily feed, automating a daily email from Fred.screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-2-04-36-pm
Immediately after setting this daily email in motion, I did what I always do after starting a new attentional habit, that is, a habit that will involve me turning my attention regularly to a new form of media or activity — I scheduled a “stick test.”

A stick test is something I made up.  It is unscientific and possibly unreliable.  But my attention (like your attention) is one of my greatest resources, so I like to be sure I’m not giving it out unthinkingly.  In a stick test, I spend 15 minutes thinking about a new product or service or program, and I ask myself some simple questions: now that some time has passed with this product or service or program, what sticks with me?  Am I happy with what sticks with me?  Is the time I’m spending with this product or service or program adding joy or knowledge or fun or health to my life?

If the answer to most of those questions is yes — in short, if good stuff is sticking with me — then I renew the habit.  If the answer is too often no, then I unsubscribe from the habit.

To cut to the chase, then, I am most definitely sticking with Fred Wilson’s daily email.  Even though we live in two very different worlds (me, education; him, venture capital) here’s what surfaced when I put his writing to the stick test:

Fred is a ridiculously clear thinker and writer, and he has made me want to be more clear in my own communication.  It’s helpful to have a near-daily model for which to strive.

His writing often reflects his values (time and time again you see him literally putting his money where his values are), which reminds me of the importance of (a) having values (b) using my values to guide my decisions, and (c) telling stories about how my values and decisions lead to action and change in my organization and, on really good days, in the world.

He taught me the definition of a PBC (Public Benefit Corporation), which is now something I aspire to build or support.  Here’s a statement from Kickstarter that he shared when he discussed PBCs.

He has taught me about the powerful things that happen when user generated content is supported and enabled:

The UGC content on SoundCloud is not just your daughter’s high school friends making music in their bedroom (which is how many of the current top artists started out). It is DJ mixes, mixtapes, remixes, top artists like Kanye dropping music quickly and easily . . . emerging artists like Chance who are unsigned and have chosen to stay independent, podcasts, and a lot more. It is the most eclectic, interesting, and vibrant streaming music service in the world.

(Read that last quotation carefully.  It’s a blueprint for how and why to build a platform devoted to creativity.)

He has reminded me of the importance of continuos feedback for organizations.  In fact, I shared his 2011 post with two separate leadership teams before meetings at which we planned to discuss our own evaluation processes. 

And last, and probably most important, his blog posts have led to some great conversations with some of my colleagues, who are also now receiving and reading Fred’s emails each day.

Subscribe to Fred Wilson’s blog posts here and let me know if they pass your stick test.