Kiko's Musings

Founder of Qulture.Rocks
Trying hard to be a: Writer, entrepreneur, angel investor, curious mind.

Page 2

Ben Horowitz Sums it All Up

I am rereading Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. First of all, the book is making a whole different impression in me this second time. What has changed? I am now the founder/CEO of a startup, and am experiencing firsthand the pain an struggle of it.

Apart from everything else that I’ll discuss on upcoming Qulture.Rocks’s blog posts, this quote struck me as golden:

“The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10X better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out...

Continue reading →

Zen and Beginner’s Mind

You know that feeling when you hear an amazing song for the first time? You savour it on its entirety. Every riff. Every chorus. Every beat. Then if you are like me, you put it on repeat, and listen to it about 100 times on your iPod. Somewhere in the second half of those 100 repeats, something weird happens: the notes fail to move you, and you start missing the most amazing part of the song, the one you most anticipated just y repeats before that. X repeats go by and you don’t even notice them. You’re looking at Waze, checking Twitter, or driving your car.

I think that’s a clear application of what Zen practitioners call “beginner’s mind.” With so much stimuli, anxiety, and pain, we get sedated to the basic constituents of life: first of all, our senses, which bring us to the present. Hearing noises, smelling smells, tasting tastes, feeling your skin and body, etc. Senses bring us to...

Continue reading →

Sealing meats

I know, I know. Totally unrelated. BUT related.

Every week I read some dumba$% talking about the importance of sealing a nice piece of meat before roasting it in the oven. They say, it “helps keep the juices neatly stuck inside the meat, and not lost in the pan.” Bullshit.

Sealing meat has only one purpose: building that nice, brown, crispy, burnt-like crust on the surface of the piece, because that crust tastes good and looks good. That’s it.

Sealing meat doesn’t magically turn the meat surface into GoreTex, or Thinsulate, or Nylon. That’s stupid. Even if you seal your meat like a crazy BBQ-master, juices will still flow out of it when you leave it to rest (I’ll tackle resting in another post).

But still, mindless people, pundits, and even chefs, repeat nonsense like that like parrots. Why don’t people stop and think about things they listen? Why don’t they apply logic, reasoning...

Continue reading →

A Stupid Sales Strategy

Today I had this most stupid sales call with a company called Walk Me. They’ve raised U$ 40 + million, so I was flabbergasted, to say the least, with what happened.

 Day 1

I was looking for a solution that would help me onboard my users. A quick Quora search referred me to many potential providers, over which I chose to test

Upon entering they’re cute little website, I was happy to find hints to a freemium plan, i.e., the following message:

Get Started with our free plan

Well, that’s what I got. I signed-up for an account, and began testing the product.

 Day 2

Had real trouble setting up the product right, so thought about reaching out for help. Was directed towards a Q&A website, totally oriented to self-service. Didn’t find what I needed (I hate self-service) so I began checking if there was a premium plan with which I could get some further support. That’s when I...

Continue reading →

Interesting thoughts on org. structure

This is a work in progress

According to Robert Simons on his Levers of Organization Design, designing your company’s organizational structure (how information, power, and accountability all flow through the organization) is the act of balancing four tensions:

  • Strategy x structure
  • Accountability x adaptability
  • Ladders x rings
  • Self-interest x mission success


Strategy x structure

Strategy and structure need to be balanced constantly. The structure needs to be designed so as to support and reinforce the company’s strategy.

The structure of an organization determines how information from the market is processed and acted upon. The design of an organization determines who receives information, to whom it is forwarded, and what actions are ultimately taken. In other words, not only does strategy determine structure, but structure also determines strategy. This two-way flow must be...

Continue reading →

Do large entreprise software companies ever achieve product/market fit?

PMarca’s definition of product/market fit goes like this:

You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.

And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it – or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your...

Continue reading →

Hey {{big company}}, please hire a UI guy

In my case, it’s Honda.

I was driving my scooter today and was flabbergasted by the amount of fuel it was consuming. Not that I’m one of those fuel geeks that know their vehicles’ mileage on traffic and highways. I just noticed it was lower than usual since last time refilled.

Anyways, I was doing a quick five-whys and saw that the feature that kills my engine when on idle was turned off, and that maybe that was the root cause. So I looked at the button that switches the feature, and had this miserable view:


“Sh%$, is this thing broke?” I though, seeing that my button was set to idling. Then I clicked it to the other position, “idling stop,” and it quickly killed the engine (I was at a traffic light).
“I must have gotten the labels wrong.”

But I couldn’t help myself but feel stupid that I couldn’t read the label proper. That’s when it hit me: “I SHOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN IT RIGHT.”...

Continue reading →

About Amazon’s Culture

If you haven’t read the NYT piece about Amazon’s tough culture, read it here.

Would it really be possible to succeed in a ruthless business such as online retailing without such a fierce culture? Maybe Jeff Bezos is standing on the shoulders of Sam Walton on this, who built a fierce, intense culture at Walmart as the only way to succeed in the razor-thin-margin business of retailing.

Amazon’s business is Walmart’s squared to the Nth power of complexity[1]: Competition for e-tail traffic is even fiercer, barriers to entry lower, and a constantly evolving landscape that allows for no catch-up breathers.

People often compare Amazon’s culture with Google’s. Google has such a collegiate environment; gourmet food is given away; you can bike your way around campus; blablabla.

But I pose this question to you: would Google’s high-school culture survive the retail business? And on a similar...

Continue reading →

Alphabet: wise move?

Here’s why I think Google’s transformation into Alphabet was not a wise one.

As Google cofounder Larry Page, now CEO of the holding company Alphabet, that will have as its main subsidiary Google, the search company, said earlier today:

As Sergey and I wrote in the original founders letter 11 years ago, “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one.” As part of that, we also said that you could expect us to make “smaller bets in areas that might seem very speculative or even strange when compared to our current businesses.” From the start, we’ve always strived to do more, and to do important and meaningful things with the resources we have.

Well, if Google wants to keep spending investor money into “speculative” areas, what could be dumber than reporting its financials as “Google: hugely profitable” and “other random stuff: huge cash drain”? It will just make...

Continue reading →

Introducing the 8-Box Matrix

We at Qulture.Rocks strongly believe in disproportionately awarding top performers, and dealing fast and objectively with underperformers. But we don’t think the two axes of the 9-Box, a common HR tool, are enough, nor that having so many intermediate boxes helps leaders figure out the wheat from the chaff. That’s why we propose a new tool called the 8-Box Matrix (patent pending) that’ll enable leaders to more accurately understand their talent pool. Voilá!


The 8-Box removes all those in-between categories that do nothing but cloud our judgement, but adds a very important dimension to the matrix, that was lacking in the previous iterations of the tool: Cultural fit. Culture eats strategy for breakfast. And it’s the only sustainable competitive advantage. So why do so many great companies ignore such an important dimension when managing their talent?

Do you feel that a tridimensional...

Continue reading →