Six months ago, UpBeet, a startup in Boulder, Colorado, sent Techstars a box of fortune cookies featuring sayings from members in their community.
Similar to Nicole Glaros, the Chief Product Officer and an Investor at Techstars, I was intrigued by the thoughtful gift and curious about the insight she’d include in hers.
It’s no surprise that Nicole chose: “Be the best in the world.”
From starting as a volunteer at Techstars to serving as the organization’s Managing Director,
Nicole brings unrivaled excellence to everything she does.
I love what I do. I don’t know how to not do that. I can point to the number of days in the last six years that I’ve felt like I worked. I could probably point to them on one hand.
Every day is a fun exploration for me. I think when you work for a living it’s hard to bring your A game but when you love what you do you dive in feet first, all the way over your head.
From her favorite daily contribution, to her work investing and managing her schedule, these are Nicole’s actionable tips on how to live and work smarter.
- The true mark of selflessness is giving without expectation.
- “When you start to help people for no reason other than to help them, you create an entire world of people who want to help you,” Nicole shares.
- Make daily contributions, no matter how small. Nicole enjoys paying for the person’s coffee behind her and leaving before he or she checks out. The giving effect inspires them to pay it forward.
How to Catch an Investor’s Attention:
- The first slide of your pitch deck should be your biggest eye opener. Whether it’s impressive revenue or citing Peter Thiel as one of your advisors, make an impression in the first 30 seconds.
- Short pitch decks > extensive, 50 pagers. Include everything you need in 8 – 10 slides. Your deck is an introduction that should inspire investors to request a follow-up. Don’t overwhelm them.
- Be prepared to answer: “Why are you doing this?” For investors, your response directly reflects your long-term commitment.
- Avoid being the Uber, Instagram, or Kickstarter for “x.” It is overdone and no longer inspiring.
- Creativity matters. For example, a founder targeted an ad specifically to Nicole’s Facebook wall. The approach was unique, caught her attention, and demonstrated resourcefulness.
Being Productive > Being Busy:
- Being productive enables you to recognize the exact things you accomplish each day. According to Nicole, there are only one or two things that will move your business forward each week. “Have a discipline on those two things, work on them, and fill in the spaces based on the things you need to accomplish,” she explains.
- Block a routine time on your calendar to accomplish tasks. Be religious about not letting anything impact it. Nicole dedicates from 2:30 – 5:30 p.m. every day to tackle her to-dos.
- Extreme productivity requires sacrifice. In order to “focus on the big things that move her role forward” Nicole is occasionally behind in email and scheduling meetings.
- Limit distractions by setting aside time to take random meetings each month.
- Own your schedule by remembering: “Discipline is critical to the success of productivity.”
How to Communicate Constructively:
- According to Nicole, 65% of startups fail due to poor communication. Silver lining: It’s completely avoidable!
- Exercise active communication by not letting issues fester. Whether you’re an engineer, senior executive, or an intern speak up about how you feel and consciously listen to others.
- State facts not opinions. For example, it’s highly more effective to say: “We were looking at your KPIs and the numbers aren’t hitting. Let’s talk about the reason that could be happening and how to solve it.” instead of “Hey, your marketing sucks!”
- Providing constructive feedback is a learned skill. Practice having difficult conversations grounded in “direct unemotional feedback.”
- Respect is the highest indication of successful communication. Cultivate it.
According to Nicole, “it takes the same amount of work to be good as it does to be great.” To learn more about her journey choosing great and how you can too tune into her episode of 33founders and subscribe to her blog here.