Peter Back, Executive, Founder discussed on What Got You There with Sean DeLaney


Percent of the value. I can probably add as a function in. My experience is thirteen years in the field building actual companies so basically seen most mistakes before Mo- partially probably committed them all and so if I can help a founder avoid them that's great and then of occasionally seeing you know a conceptual framework for resolving very sharp trade offs that it can be useful to a very talented founder and that's all function on my thirteen eighteen years of experience Really running things. I mean. Push back on me. If you don't agree with this but I think it's really important to understand what your unique skills are and it seems like you've done a ton of self reflection of really understand this so I'm wondering if there's anything that you've done to understand what you are best at great question because one of the most important things I read had growing up sexually either junior senior and junior prize maybe software. Your High School Oxley was his books. Being of sports by Pat Riley Called the winner within and in the book he quotes of all things. Jerry Garcia. The grateful dead. Saying you don't want to be the best what you do. You want to be the only one who does what you do. And that's that that definition of how to how to define yourself that like instruction of how to define yourself to be unique I'm really resonated with me and so I've spent a lot of time over my life's yard read this many many years ago for decades ago and I've always wanted to figure out how to define myself. Not just being the best but being unique and so I always thought to be able to communicate that with clarity and so that that leads to a fair amount of reflection similarly venture capitals very competitive industry I compete with a lot. aww talented people in the US incredibly efficient market actually and so you to be successful than efficient market you need to figure out what your comparative the data judges and you need your magnify it if you want to have disproportion success so I spent a lot of time trying to figure out both for me in far our fund how do we have a comparative advantage. vis-a-vis a lot of other talented folks. Do you have a clear concise breakdown of what your comparative advantages. Well Well Yeah No. It's changed a little bit Over over time in in different roles arguably for example. The last x years of my life is executive I think one of the things that well maybe it. Maybe I'll give you a global one. That's probably fair to state Across twenty years. Which is what I've been able to do very well as pair with very opinionated strong willed visionary founders and be there complement and that's a fairly difficult skill or fairly rare skill actually In there's reasons why on as I mentioned all these people from Peter to reach a Max Jock to vinod to Peter are all very different with different strengths and different needs and being able to be a compliment to them in a way that they appreciate it. It is a unique skill and I of often thought about doing it again. And you know finding another one of those people because actually the is really challenging and very ornamental works So that that's one that's probably inconsistent but let's say as an example Last what's four or five years in my executive career. I was able to blend what what might be called design thinking with impure pure call analysis in a quite interesting way so the way I would describe this is even is a business person Most of the designers I worked with would really appreciate my feedback and being able to work with first rate designers as a quantitative empirical thinker with the Business Marketing Mindset Was Pretty a rare. Actually it was a it was a significant compliment when a designer would come up to me and ask for feedback and especially say you're the only business personnel like sir. Try to be able to marry those two things and that not that common. So let's talk about the marriage of that then so I'm thinking about just your overall idea generation process you when you hear about a business your vetting it through. What is that look like for you? Then the marriage of those two. I don't actually do a lot of top down thinking of of Interesting ideas that would be great businesses. I'd say that occur. That happens for me once every four or five years. It's very slow pace. I have friends and colleagues his who seemed to have good ideas Every week or every month or every year. That's not me. I'm a better filter of other people's ideas than I am a generator of my own So a lot of what I do is I listened to ideas and riffs on them or critique them and help other people refine them by my critiques or by my wrists versus like generating them yet. I I should reword that I met more about those risks and I'm wondering are you going out on your own rethinking. Those ideas through seeking pushback even harder or is it just kind of right there in the moment you're thinking through it's usually. It's usually pretty spontaneously pretty quickly. I had an immediate reaction very fast to a lot of ideas and that may start a very deep in long prolonged dialogue about the merits or demerits. Seven idea you know over. Over twenty years you develop like simple distillation jr that are short short hand Principles so for example. I tend tend to like vertically integrated companies. I don't tend to like components. I you you develop these Ceuta biasi pseudo principles based APOL- law A lot of very detailed and specific thinking that you start uses an immediate filter and then you engage from the immediate. Get solter so let's stick with finding that undiscovered talent and I know one of your goals is to monopolize that and and how close are you to that. Unfortunately I am very very far away have yet to come up with the perfect answer and how to become a monopolist on undiscovered talent One day hopefully maybe once I finally finally achieve it. Maybe then I'll quit. I'm one of the important. Things is taken that talent and being able to structure that culture around it. So what are your first principles around designing a culture. Well the first principles to that or if you're going to attract people with extremely high potential. The first thing you you have to do is let them thrive which is giving them degrees of freedom should do both what they can do very well until to some extent concomitantly allow them make mistakes if you try to constrain very talented people. You're only going to create a mirror of yourself with your same same strengths and weaknesses. You have to let people do stuff that you disagree with or because you can't really tell how good they are if they're just replicating what you would have them do justice first thing second thing is you need to let them. You need to give them enough visiting giving enough rope. That they can prove what they're awesome and get close enough to failing that they've they feel the consequences but with enough of a sort of a safety valve that if there's there's catastrophic potential specially for company an operating company that you have enough time and Attention to inner intercept dot. So so that. That alone is a major challenge. Second I think you need a process for where nobody's perfect. Where whoever whoever they said people you can learn and that can be through Moses or can be through top down instruction but he basically wanted to be ultimate enter people And there are different ways to do that. But you want people to increase the their proficiency improve their craft and you want to create a process and culture where that's possible encouraged to for example one of the most important lessons I've learned when I was a law clerk so right out of law school When I was twenty five years old was The judge I clerked for sat down and and she basically explained that my job in our jobs that you cook co clerks was to not allow her to make a mistake and that is something something I that lesson is something. I demand and instruct all the table. Come to work for me. Is your number one job is. Don't let me allow don't ever let you make a mistake and I don't care what you have to do to stop me for making a mistake and shoe versus you'll meet a lot of people life that will complain and whine you know. Oh my boss. Did this decided that or me. And I sorta transform that in invert dot and say it's always your obligation to convince whoever you report Portugal that they're wrong and most talented people that I've ever worked with take. This instruction very seriously in a very good at forty out to me would have to make a mistake. I love that framework. I loved the pushback. I want to dive back for a second in just giving that overall freedom to make mistakes and any memories where you had someone you worked with really gave you that leeway to make those mistakes and learn didn't maybe not actually the people I worked for a very opinionated. Very strong views Maybe yeah I'm not sure I'm not sure I like that much of a license but that's okay I give other people licensed by more exactly so you. So you mentioned that moment when you you were clerking any other defining moments in your career. I know when you pivoted joined pay pal any other things that really just come to mind for you. I mean one of the most important moments of my career. There was when my first week at payback. Actually believe it or not. The Saturday afternoon of the first week Peter and I went for a jog around the Stanford campus and we have this prolonged longed elaborate conversation about how to discover on the importance of an discovering undiscovered talent. He basically had this point and observation that you can scale start up competing for the same talent that all the large comments wanted at the time. It'd be somewhere like Yahoo Microsoft. AOL All believe it or not e Bay on you had to be able to find people that they didn't know how how to process because otherwise they would just outbid you compensation etc and show. I didn't understand understood the logic of that in it was certainly the power behind the pay. Powell recruiting machine. But I didn't understand how I didn't how to accomplish it so it took me the multiple years of trial and error theory out how to skeletal Albany by only hiring people that were undiscovered Sue sube but then the the benefit or the value and the importance of it was really touch me November of two thousand and it's been the driving force in my career so clearly a very indispensable conversation who'd win a race. You're Peter Back then. He's a much better runner than me. I probably could outrun them. Now but He he he he. He is much much more provisions runner than I ever was so sticking with discovering undiscovered talent. What are some unmeasurable things that you believe? We just provide the best benefit in got sure mushroom totally following the question Are there the unique traits that someone might do that. You can't measure but you just think provides tremendous benefit. Yeah I mean certainly things like whether you describe it Paul. Graham has his great essay called relentlessly resourceful Title and I think it sort of gives away the conclusion then whether you describe it as being relentlessly resourceful or tenacious or grit. They're somewhat similar concepts. I think relentlessly resourceful is the probably the most apt description. But they're fairly similar traits. I I still believe in the benefits of intelligence than I Q. I think you do need to see things other. People don't see you have to do things other people won't do which is the relentlessness but being able to see things in solutions and ideas other people don't see is partially function of q and then third probably something to the altus scale yourself which is around being a magnet for talent to even be altus missile. There people sell vision to other people. That's compelling because you really can't change the world at least start ups by yourself what do you do. You discover. Discover one of these people and they're working on the wrong thing well that's rare truthfully Partially because they're better filters of their own time they value their own time. Systematically you know As well as I would. So they'll they'll know they're working on the wrong thing more than I will. In any ways asymmetric information I may highlight highlight. Ask for them. Or may give them some clarification about like The value of their time but they really already know that in their heart and they just made many sort of reinforcement reinforcement. I mean that's a lot of a lot of my role in. Many ways is very similar to a psychologist in some ways of giving people feedback by asking questions and at the end of the questioning. Kinda gets to the right conclusion Or submit I think on my role as being haunted House Mirror. Like cartoonish merits or this or exaggerates. The strengths and we this is really just play back..

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