Wisdom of the West Coast, Day 2: two Jeffs a Joni and a Tom.

Communication emerged as a theme on this, our second day in Silicon Valley. “Articulate the WHY”, said Joni Reicher (Apple, then Airbnb, now Mesosphere); “It’s not exactly what your product does — it’s how you communicate the value of it,” said Tom Reilly (Cloudera); And Jeff Weiner (CEO, LinkedIn) assured our 16 CEOs that it wasn’t until they were sick of hearing themselves repeat their vision that they could be sure people were starting to listen.

Priscila Bala
Oct 3, 2018 · 3 min read

The day began with Jeff Miller(Jamm Ventures) who knows all about the origin of the title “Silicon” in this particular Valley. As CEO of Documentum, Jeff grew the company from a staff of 15 with $500k of sales in 1993, to a listed company of 1,200 with revenues of $200m in 2001. “Do not underestimate the number of times your people need to hear the same message from you,” said Jeff, setting out what would become a theme for the day.

Jeff pressed home the point of unity and clarity over perfection, stating that any team 100% focused on an 80% correct solution, always wins. His concluding remark — “we may not be right, but we are not confused” — had one CEO promising to get it tattooed on his shoulder.

“Yesterday crystallised a framework for me: how to work, rather than just getting things done.”

Antonio Separovic — Oradian

Joni Reicher told how she completely reframed the concept of HR when working at Apple. She treated HR as Apple did its product. “Shipping product” — a new medical leave policy, for example — would be treated as a “launch”, the same as any other Apple product. She urged the CEOs to carry out “continuous articulation” of the value of working at a startup to their new hires who might be sacrificing security and earnings. “Let them know what they’re trading it for: your values, vision and incredible learning experiences.”

(John Hamm, Octopus Venture Partner, followed up with a “don’t try this at home” alert, stressing the paramount importance of HR and “acquiring a Joni” to help you.)

“Now I have a structure to follow. It’s about leaving a disproportionately large footprint.”

Amir Nejadmalayeri, Phoelex

Many, many more learnings and insights were gathered today and we’ll be sharing them over the coming weeks, theme-by-theme.

Day 2 ended with yet more unforgettable wisdom from John Hamm, Octopus Venture Partner. He reminded the group that “problems age like bananas, not wine”. And that one thing all the guest speakers have in common is that they “actively embrace problems”.

What leadership questions would you want to hear about?

Want some help asking the right questions to help your business to succeed? Get in touch with our experienced team at Octopus Ventures.

Octopus Ventures

Practical support and insights from the team at Octopus Ventures, a multi-stage London VC backing unusual talent intent on global impact.

Priscila Bala

Written by

One of @OctopusVentures team seeking unusually talented entrepreneurs. Based in NYC. Latina, mother, tea-lover.

Octopus Ventures

Practical support and insights from the team at Octopus Ventures, a multi-stage London VC backing unusual talent intent on global impact.

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