The Startup Playbook – Book Notes


The Startup Playbook, is a book that I really enjoyed. Here’s a list of the quotes that I found most interesting:

  1. Intro – Building a startup will be the homeownership of the next century.
  2. Intro – Ruthlessly focus on your biggest ideas. While you might think keeping your options open creates added opportunity and paths to fortune, it actually does the reverse.
  3. Intro – Ultimately, you are trying to unlock your product-to-market fit equation as quickly as your talent and capitalization will allow. It is critical to select your problem well, focus intensely, and crack the code.
  4. Intro – Be 10 times better than your competitors. You cannot Be incrementally better. Incrementalism kills companies. Radically differentiate your company by being 10 times better than anyone else in the world.
  5. Intro – Be a monopolist. Few entrepreneurs think as boldly as they need to from the very beginning. Yet, this type of thinking needs to be woven into the fabric of the company’s psyche from day one. We are only limited by the scope of our vision.
  6. Intro – The entire company and its ultimate outcome are a reflection of your ability to set the foundational purpose, beliefs, and focus to contribute to a lasting organization that effectively solves a major market problem.
  7. Intro – We have a responsibility to take great risks because in truth, we have few true risks at all. I believe a life fully lived should be lived boldly, loaded with chances to push yourself to the greatest extremes of your abilities.
  8. Intro – Don’t suffer from the sin of comparison. Follow your own path. Trust your gut, focus on the voice of your customers, and move forward on a committed, decisive path.
  9. Intro – I feel one of my most important jobs and my companies is to give my teams the ability to take Great risks without fear of failure or peer contempt. Don’t hide failure. Admit it, address it, learn from it, and then forgive it and move forward.
  10. Intro – Start ups are stupidly hard. The decision to pursue them is irrational.
  11. Chris Anderson – If you can’t define your brand in 3 to 8 words, you’re doomed.
  12. Chris Anderson – Build your reputation through transparency.
  13. Charles Best – Users will reward you for being transparent and giving them choices.
  14. Charles Best – Learn to utilize crowd sourcing on both the front end and the backend of your business.
  15. Sara Blakely – Money is a magnifying glass. It makes you more of who you already are.
  16. Steve Blank – Populate your board with dinosaurs.
  17. Steve Blank – Make “good enough” daily decisions. If someone comes into your office with the question, they should leave with an answer.
  18. Steve Blank – When you run the startup, you’re breaking every rule, shattering every piece of glass, punching through walls, and leaving rubble along the way. It’s like being a platoon commander.
  19. Matt Blumberg – You have to be the most optimistic person in the company and the most pessimistic person company at the same time.
  20. Rodney Brooks – Fire people when they lose faith in your ideas.
  21. Jeff Bussgang – A fatal mistake that some people make is either to ignore data or actually deny what the facts are presenting. It’s easy to fall into that trap at a startup because you’re constantly getting barraged with imperfect information. You shouldn’t let that paralyze you.
  22. Jeff Bussgang – Build a love driven culture.
  23. Jeff Bussgang – Be a mentor. If your not mentoring someone, you’re missing out on something special.
  24. Jeff Bussgang – Don’t neglect the contract with your family. Your strongest as professional and as a person when you have a strong family foundation to rest on.
  25. Steve Case – Change the world. The key driver for me is finding businesses that change the world. These are businesses that empower consumers in new ways, giving them more choice, giving them more control, giving them more convenience in important aspects of their lives.
  26. Steve Case – Focus on people, perseverance, and passion.
  27. Steve Case – We have a great need for people focused on the bigger ideas. Entrepreneurs are the change agents that need to take the lead in building iconic, lasting companies that will improve peoples lives.
  28. Steve Case – Be an attacker, not a defender. What people underestimate is how risky it is to operate in a stable business as a defender rather than an attacker.
  29. Steve Case – Be loyal to your team, but make changes as you scale.
  30. Steve Case – Once you have found the revolutionary idea that you are ready to start a company in pursuit of, you need to be sure you survive to see it through. Occasionally there is an overnight success, but more often it is a marathon, not a sprint.
  31. Steve Case – Set direction and step aside. If you are a really great CEO, you should wake up in the morning and have nothing to do.
  32. Steve Case – Don’t build companies. Build industries. One way to identify entrepreneurs or companies that will change the world is by finding startups that are trying to create an entire industry rather than just build a company. That ambition is the foundation of lasting, iconic, platform companies.
  33. Marc Cenedella – Use passion as your filter. Realistically, there won’t be 100 things or 1000 things that you could execute on as an entrepreneur. At some point, you have to pick one and go, and it has to be something you have a passion for.
  34. Marc Cenedella – Show up and don’t quit. The once you say, “You know what, I didn’t quit”, there’s really deep wisdom in that.
  35. Marc Cenedella – Over-communicate in a crisis.
  36. Marc Cenedella – When you have 50 to 60 hands working on your business, you need to step back from tactical issues and focus on strategic life or death decisions.
  37. Robin Chase – Be frugal, personally and professionally.
  38. Chip Conley – The most neglecting fact in business is that we’re all human.
  39. Chip Conley – When you start, you have no idea what you don’t know. If you keep your business small in the beginning, your initial mistakes are going to be small and you can use them to create a better product.
  40. Jeff Dachis – Build backward from a future state. The issues I tackle are often wildly complex and years into the future.
  41. Jeff Dachis – When you first enter a marketplace, you’ll get laughed at and ridicules and have tomato thrown at you. It’s difficult, but it’s the only way to see if your arguments stand up.
  42. Jeff Dachis – Only take risks when you can affect the outcome. Focus on eliminating risks.
  43. Jeff Dachis – Don’t get lost in lists.
  44. Jeff Dachis – Build solutions, not features.
  45. Kevin Efrusy – Don’t clutter your time. You make your best decisions, when your time isn’t cluttered with a bunch of random stuff.
  46. Caterina Fake – Make something people want to use every day.
  47. Caterina Fake – Working on the right problem is more important than working hard.
  48. Caterina Fake – As a leader of a team or company, you will always have to deal with anxiety. You cannot let those anxieties spread out past you.
  49. Mitch Free – Bootstrap your business for as long as you can. If you can prove that customers are willing to pay money for your offer before you raise money, you’ll get a much higher valuation.
  50. Mitch Free – A great salary on day one often means significantly less upside later on down the road.
  51. Mitch Free – Recognize the life cycles in your team. Not everyone will transition as your business scales.
  52. Mitch Free – The bigger an organization gets the more important it is for you to explicitly communicate with your team.
  53. Mitch Free – share the blame when letting people go. It’s never, “screw you you didn’t work out”, but, “I’m sorry that we didn’t assess the fit properly”.
  54. Tom Gardner – Defined the perfect outcome. You have to nail down what outcome you are seeking.
  55. Tom Gardner – Recognize your actual revenue streams and diversify them.
  56. Tom Gardner – Create an environment that people wouldn’t make sacrifices to join.
  57. Tom Gardner – Deploy a capital like an investor.
  58. Tom Gardner – There is almost always a better option than taking on another full-time employee. The keyword is almost.
  59. Eileen Gittins – It’s through telling stories – about the business, the founding, the customers – that people take on the spirit of the company.
  60. Eileen Gittins – Leadership is, in part, the art of storytelling.
  61. Eileen Gittins – Ineffective team members cause more harm than terminations.
  62. Eileen Gittins – Grant here employees autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
  63. Seth Goldman – The challenge, as I see it, is not, “How do you sell products?” Its, “How do you communicate your beliefs to people and make them into believers?”
  64. Seth Goldman – You want employees to care about the long-term performance of the company, so you should give them as much control over their part in the business as you can.
  65. Scott Harrison – Everything that you do must express your passions and your purpose.
  66. Reid Hoffman – Execute on your biggest idea. Building up a small idea is as much work as building up a big one in the first phases, so you absolutely want to execute on the biggest possible idea that you can.
  67. Reid Hoffman – The only competitive differentiations that matter are ten-times-greater differentiations.
  68. Jeffrey Hollender – Radical transparency and authenticity should dominate your brand and culture.
  69. Ben Horowitz – People are fundamentally lazy, and they’re not going to adopt something unless it’s at least 10 times better than what they are ready have.
  70. Ben Horowitz – You always want to build monopoly because that’s where you’ll get outsize returns.
  71. Tony Hsieh – Be humble. The people in overly proud companies start believing their own press releases and feeling like they can do no wrong.
  72. Tony Hsieh – Giving early managers and executives top-heavy titles inhibits growth.
  73. Cyrus Massoumi – Most startups do A/B testing. But we A/B test everything.
  74. Cyrus Massoumi – Keep your entire company aligned to the core mission. Our goals aren’t centered around money or valuations.
  75. Jim McCann – Managing in underfunded startup is terribly exhausting.
  76. Jim McCann – Cultivate an alumni. If someone leaves on good terms, give proper notice, and treats everyone with professionalism and integrity, we want them to be one of our alumni.
  77. Elon Musk – Impact the future of humanity. I’ve always tried to be involved in things that will impact the future of humanity and have a good impact on the world.
  78. Elon Musk – The most important thing an entrepreneur can do is focus on making a great product or service. Stay very close to the product and be hell-bent on making it as good as it can be.
  79. Elon Musk – Make sure people know exactly why somebody was fired.
  80. Elon Musk – Run your company for as long as you reasonably can. You should only consider passing over the reins to somebody as good or better than you are at creating great products.
  81. Adeo Ressi – Start with multiple ideas and kill them off. It’s much easier to kill an idea when it’s not yet a business.
  82. Adeo Ressi – Conserve dollars in every way you can.
  83. Kevin Ryan – Get to market. In the beginning, you have no way of knowing if you have the right design, or if it’s going to work. There are a lot of things you don’t know. You just have to get out the door and find out.
  84. Jeff Stewart – A business isn’t one big invention. It’s hundreds of small inventions.


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