When I was a kid, I used to really like westerns. Maybe it was because my Dad really liked westerns, so I liked westerns too.

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There was a rather obscure western that I really liked called, “The Culpepper Cattle Company.” It’s the story of young, wanna be cowboy, named Ben, and his coming of age on a cattle drive.

Even though I haven’t seen the movie in years, there’s a great scene that I still remember. Ben, the young cowboy, is admiring the horse that Luke, an older, weathered, cowboy owns.

Ben looks and Luke and says, “Sure is a…


I love watching Roger Federer play tennis. He looks like he’s gliding across the court. And, no matter how hot it is, the guy never sweats. Never.

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Then, there’s his polar opposite, Blossom’s favorite player, Rafael Nadal. Before he ever takes the court, Nadal looks like he’s been in a war.

Nadal is dripping with sweat before the match even starts. During a five set match, Nadal might lose eight pounds sweating. Now that’s hard work.

So, here we have the polar opposites, the guy who never sweats, Federer, and the guy who sweats and sweats, Nadal. …


“Tina, can you help me get all the VPs together? I need to meet with them right now. It’s urgent.”

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“Okay,” Tina said.

“Have everyone, including you, meet me in the large conference room.”

A few minutes later Jeroen, Adolfo, Dave, Shoba, and Tina were all assembled around the table in the large conference room. I was at my usual spot at the end of the oval table.

The room was quiet. Then I started talking.

“All right,” I said. “Let me tell you what’s going on. …


“I just want to be able to breathe,” I said to Irwin and Winston, two VCs I was meeting with as I began raising our Series B funding. The second I uttered those words, I wanted them back. I thought my words exposed my inner feelings, but Irwin and Winston just moved on with the conversation.

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However, the reality was I really did just want to breathe. We’d raised our Series A over two years earlier, and, at that point in time, I’d been running the company for over four years.

I kept asking myself, “Would it ever get any…


I love the movie, “The Social Network.” I think it’s kind of like The Godfather, but for startups instead. What do I mean by this?

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There are so many memorable lines and takes in both movies that are applicable to business, in The Godfather’s case, and startups in The Social Network.

In The Godfather, you have, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” In The Social Network, you have so many memorable scenes. The scene I’m looking for is the one where Mark has just gotten Peter Theil to give Facebook an initial investment.

Mark says to Eduardo, his co-founder, “We…


“Their lawyer said, ‘We (“Donald Ventures”) no longer believe in the company.’” Marcia, our attorney, said to me.

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“Okay, that’s not a surprise,” I responded.

Then, before I could say anything else, Marcia said, “I told her (Donald’s lawyer) ‘We have a term sheet that requires none of your money. What the fuck!”

I laughed and said, “Thanks Marcia. I appreciate you saying that.

“Maybe, they’ll actually change their minds.”

“Well, somebody had to say it to them.” Then, Marcia paused and said, “There’s a round to close.”

Most VCs you work with will act responsibly if they don’t believe in your company any more.

We’d been in our fight with Donald Ventures for over one year…


“You don’t know what you don’t know,” I said to “Evan,” a young CEO I am working with. I was telling Evan that he needed a world-class VP Operations for his startup.

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Evan challenged me, and he said, “Why?”

Evan’s company was going to spend millions manufacturing its product. The problem that I clearly saw was there was no one, no one, inside Evan’s company, including Evan, that had any experience dealing with manufacturers.

Worse yet, none of Evan’s board members had any experience with manufacturing companies either. It was literally the blind leading the blind.

Evan listened to what…


“You have the patience of Job,” Tucker, a potential investor in my company, said to me. Tucker and I were strategizing on how to close our funding, and I was walking him through my strategy.

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We had multiple problems to solve in order to close the funding. To start with, one of our existing investors, the infamous “Raul,” had blocked every term sheet we’d received.

The problem Tucker and I were trying to sold today was being caused by “Robbie.” …


“I want us to look big,” I said to Regis McKenna. Regis is a legendary Silicon Valley marketer who has worked with Apple (their first PC launch) and Intel (their first microprocessor launch. He was an advisor to one of my investors (Gill), and he had worked previously with my other investor (Raul).

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Regis smiled and said, “You remind me of Steve Sanghi.” Sanghi is the founding CEO of Microchip, a multi-billion dollar semiconductor company.

I nodded my head and Regis continued with his analogy. “Sanghi said the same thing to me when Microchip was at your stage of growth.”


Every year, one of my VC investors would hold a “CEO Summit.” All the of the portfolio company CEOs would gather to network and listen to presentations from various people.

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The final speaker on the final day was always Jack Dorsey of Square and Twitter fame. Dorsey would walk on stage, without any notes or slides, and he would start extemporaneously speaking.

To be honest, I always found Dorsey’s speeches boring and rambling. Maybe it was the lack of slides. I don’t know.

One year, in one of Dorsey’s rambling speeches that seemed to go nowhere, he said something that…

brett fox

I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at www.brettjfox.com

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