Tag notes


Before the Startup – Lecture Notes 3

This is a continuation of my notes covering Sam Altman’s startup class. You can also check out the intro notes (part 1 and part 2) and lecture 2 which is about building a great team.

Lecture 3 is given by Paul Graham, one of the most experienced voices in the startup world and an eloquent writer on the topic He’s also an entertaining speaker. I recommend listening to his actual video presentation.

The core of this lecture is about all of the stuff that comes before actually starting a startup. This encompasses things like how to get or recognize a great idea as well as a litany of generally useful but often counter-intuitive bits of knowledge about startups. In fact, the entire lecture is structured around understanding that startups are often very counter-intuitive.

One caveat to Paul’s lecture is in order. It often feels that one of his main goals is to issue a stark warning about the failure rates and opportunity costs of entering the startup world for the wrong reasons. As he says, “starting a startup is really hard.”

Paul wants us all to understand that startups are risky, that they have costs, and that if you’re an awestruck student buying into the entrepreneurial lifestyle because it seems sexy don’t do it. Caution is well warranted before venturing in this space.


Building a Great Team & Executing Well – Startup Class Lecture 2 Notes

These are my notes for Lecture 2 of Sam Altman’s Startup class. The course, organized by Sam Altman, the President of YCombinator, has the express goal of teaching “everything we know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.” You can also see my notes for the intro and Lecture 1.

OK. So whereas Lecture 1 focused on the five key attributes of a great startup and zeroed in on what makes for a good startup idea, Lecture 2 is focused on how to build a great team. The second half of the lecture then shifts away from one’s team and instead talks about your responsibilities as a Founder in terms of what you need to execute well on in order to succeed.

The team part of the lecture follows the following outline:

  1. CoFounders: Why they’re important, what to look for, and how to find them
  2. Why to NOT Hire: Burn rate, speed of execution, delicacy of the beginning
  3. Recruiting the best talent: What it takes to get the best
  4. Talent Retention: or, Don’t F*ck it Up
  5. Firing Fast:: or, Don’t let others F*ck it Up

Startup Class Lecture 1 – The Five Components of a Great Startup

This post is a continuation of Lecture 1 of YCombinator’s class at Stanford called ‘Startup Class‘ which aims to teach “everything we know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.” Whereas my first set of notes about the class talks about cautionary note on the difficulty of starting a startup (and why I’m writing these notes at all), this part of the lecture, given by Sam Altman, really starts delving into what makes a great startup.

The Five Components of a Great Startup

  • Great Idea
  • Great Product
  • Great Team
  • Great Execution
  • Luck

Startup Class – Intro Notes on the YCombinator Class at Stanford

What is this Startup Class?

This is a phenomenal free course organized by Sam Altman, the President of YCombinator, with an express goal to teach “Everything we know about how to start a startup, for free, from some of the world experts.” The full course is well organized and broken down into guest lectures by some of the biggest entrepreneurial names in the entire business including Peter Thiel, Paul GrahamDustin Moskovitz and many more. The course videos and full annotated lectures are available here. I’ve found the classes to be of immense value. Not only are the speakers on point, but the assigned readings lead to an intricate web of articles and authors that talk about big ideas ricocheting throughout the startup world. I’ve listened to each lecture at least a few times already. It’s that good – especially the earlier lectures. Personally, I think the class is relevant for a broader audience than ‘just’ aspiring entrepreneurs. Why? Because startups have a myopic focus on creating new value in the world. That means startups can only survive and thrive over time if they solve a real problem. This makes both the outcome of startups and the process of startups pretty interesting from different perspectives, even if you’re not interested in being an entrepreneur yourself. That said, Altman caveats the entire course by saying these are principles that apply specifically to startups looking to achieve rapid growth and scale. They may not apply or work well outside of that context.


Taking Stock – Introduction

I am constantly amazed that close to 100% of my close friends know next to nothing about finance and investing. When I say that, I’m not talking about super complex investment concepts either. I’m talking about basic strategies for taking care of your money and building a secure financial future for yourself. I’m talking about avoiding major mistakes that can screw you over. I’m talking about taking care of “the money thing” so you can focus on things you care more about.

I think the total lack of caring or thinking about finance is a big problem in my generation. It extends way beyond my own friends. I see it with coworkers my age, friends of friends…it’s pretty much everywhere. Why do we so often pass on responsibility for our finances to others?

There are many reasons that we tune this area out. For some it’s laziness. For others maybe it’s a lack of knowledge or the idea that taking care of our investments is incredibly complex. Or maybe for some of us it’s the belief that we don’t have enough money saved up for it to matter how we put it to work. And then there is fear.

Fear, whether conscious or not, is the most pernicious and perhaps the most common factor holding so many of us back from taking control. After all, if you don’t take control of your money you have someone else to blame for not achieving your goals…right?

The reason for this article series, which I am calling ‘Taking Stock,’ is to explore how to take back control of your financial future. I think I can help address the blocks you might have that have held you back from taking control of your money. I know I can introduce profound yet simple concepts about money management and investment decisions that will empower you to make your own informed decisions.

This series is about owning your money. It’s a mixture of practical suggestions, resources, and more roundabout discussions of the emotional side of money that affect us all. The articles are geared towards young professionals, but I think there’s value for people in all stages of life.