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Showing posts by the author Chris Marks

On Authentic Leadership

Scott Kriens is the Chairman of Juniper Networks, where he served as CEO from its inception in 1996 through 2008, growing the company to $3.5 billion in revenue and over 7,000 employees around the world. He is also co-founder of the 1440 Foundation, a not-for-profit organization with a vision for building compassionate communities and helping people lead generative lives, and the 1440 Mulitversity, a learning community serving as a catalyst to your best self. I have been lucky to get to know Scott over the past few years, and during that time, our many discussions around the topic of authentic leadership helped shape the vision and passion behind Blue Note Ventures. I’m excited to have Scott as a partner and advisor, and proud to call him a friend.

– Chris

No one cares what you say until they know who you are. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Blink, he describes a process called the ‘thin slice’. This is a reference to something we all do, sometimes without even knowing we do it. We take a ‘thin slice’, a quick check, of something presented to us and the person presenting it, and, paraphrasing Gladwell in my own words, we ask the following question – does it feel...

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Surviving Game 7

Toby is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kapost, the leading software platform for B2B content marketing. He is also a Washington Capitals fan and a Duke alum — all of which shine through in this post. Toby carries the distinction of being the only entrepreneur who I have ever invested in and played hockey with (a short-lived dynasty in the local YMCA Men’s League). He has written on the Blue Note Blog before, and I’m thrilled to have him back.

– Chris

I’ve been watching the recently completed Washington Capitals – NY Rangers NHL playoff series (I’m from Washington and a Caps fan). The Rangers won (cheers Mark Solon) in seven games, winning the final game in overtime. Analysts pointed out that it was the only playoff series in NHL history that went to overtime in game 7, and had all 7 games decided by only one goal. It was, they argued, the closest playoff series in NHL...

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Three Reasons Why Bruce is the Best Boss

I was first introduced to Stew Friedman by a mutual friend who knew of our shared passion for the music of Bruce Springsteen. As I dug into Stew’s work, I was amazed at how much it spoke to the purpose behind Blue Note Ventures. Stew has been a professor at Wharton School since 1984 where he founded both the Wharton Leadership Program and the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. In 2001, he concluded a two-year assignment (while on leave from Wharton) at Ford, as the senior executive for leadership development. In partnership with the CEO, he launched a portfolio of initiatives to transform Ford’s culture — 2500+ managers per year participated. Stew has written several books including most recently, Leading The Life You Want: Integrating Work Life Balance (Harvard Business, 2014) and the award-winning bestseller, Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life (Harvard Business, 2008). You can learn more about Stew’s work and find his books on the Total Leadership Website (where this post originally appeared), follow him on Twitter at @stewfriedman and listen to his show, Work and Life, on Sirius XM 111,Tuesdays at 7:00 PM EDT. If all fails, you can look for Stew in the pit at an upcoming Bruce show.

-Chris

By Stew Friedman Bruce Springsteen — great leader? You might be skeptical, but bear with me as I describe a few practical ideas we can pull from Springsteen’s repertoire of the critical “soft skills” that set the memorably high-impact leaders apart from the rest of the pack. Bruce’s epic music is a source of inspiration for millions around the world. Like many others, his impact on me has been deeply personal. On a recent night...

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Three Stages of Start-up Leadership

Toby is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kapost, the leading software platform for B2B content marketing. I love the company, and I love Toby. He is one of the most transparent entrepreneurs I have ever worked with — which has been amazing.  And, to be honest, has been absolutely terrifying at times… Through it all, he has taught me a lot about the type of investor I want to be, and the type of entrepreneur I want to work with. I’m thrilled to have him share his thoughts on leading, both as a CEO and as a Co-Founder.

-Chris

My business card and my email signature list my title at Kapost as “Co-founder and CEO.” It’s the title I’ve held since we started the company five years ago. Our company has changed a lot in those five years; we’re over seventy people now. During that time, I’ve come to realize that the title really didn’t apply at the start of our business, and I’m hoping that it does not apply now. Specifically, I’ve come...

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Deconstructing a CEO

John is a serial entrepreneur who has been building tech companies focused on solutions for retailers and consumer product companies since the early 2000’s. I first met John when his company, Bawte, was a member of the 2014 Boulder TechStars Class (learn more at www.bawte.com). About a month into the program, John talked to me about how the program had changed not only his business, but his views on what it meant to lead a team as CEO. John lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his  wife and two daughters and you can follow him on Twitter @Jackovin.
-Chris

On July 14th I found myself in my Jeep set to make the 10 hour trip to Boulder, CO. My company, Bawte, had been accepted into the 2014 Techstars program. Other than leaving my home and my family, I really had few concerns. I had been a CEO for over 10 years…been starting tech companies since the early 2000’s. I had already been through a lot. Now, no one has every experience under their belt,...

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Building A Business – It’s Personal

Guest Author: Bart Lorang. I first invested in Bart in the spring of 2011. He and his co-founders were working out of a basement — strangely passionate about solving the world’s contact management problem. Since then, Bart has raised over $20 million in venture capital, built a company of over 50 employees, and, as CEO of FullContact, made huge strides in cleaning up your address book. Along the way, Bart has become totally committed to building a company that reflects his values and those of his employees. I am thrilled to have Bart write the first guest post on the Blue Note Blog.

– Chris

“It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business” – Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972) We have heard these words (or a variant thereof) countless times since they were first uttered on screen in Francis Ford Coppola’s Academy Award winning classic The Godfather. It gets repeated so often in American culture that it feels like it’s an Unimpeachable, Infallible Law of Capitalism that is Beyond Reproach. But is it really a good business philosophy? Ever since...

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An Authentic Discussion About Leadership

Welcome to Blue Note Ventures, and thanks for checking out the new blog. In my opinion (and probably yours too), this world has plenty of blogs written by very smart VCs, covering just about every angle of the industry. My sincere hope is that this blog will be different. This is not a blog about me – or even about Blue Note Ventures. Although I will occasionally use it to pass along news from the...

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Embracing Your “Oh Shit” Moment

This post originally appeared at www.chrisamarks.com in 2014

It can be triggered by any number of things — something as benign as a re-forecasting exercise with your CFO, or something as direct as a conversation with a key customer. It can hit you suddenly, or it can evolve over time, from a lingering suspicion to a brutal certainty. Whatever the circumstances, almost every start-up founder experiences at least one true “Oh Shit” moment. I’m not talking about the daily challenges faced by every...

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The Growth of an Ecosystem

This post originally appeared at www.chrisamarks.com in 2013

I vividly remember the day I first got excited about working with entrepreneurs. I was a second year law student trying to make it through my Mergers and Acquisitions class, when my professor announced a guest speaker. The visitor was Jim Linfield, the managing partner of Cooley Godward, a law firm based in the Bay Area that had just opened an office in Boulder with the express purpose of working with start-up companies. As Jim...

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The First Mover Disadvantage

This post originally appeared at www.chrisamarks.com in 2013

Day after day, I see pitches by companies highlighting their “first-mover advantage.” And for good reason. As investors, we are constantly searching for ideas that are innovative and new. We are always looking for companies creating new markets or disrupting existing ones. The idea of a company establishing itself as a market leader in an emerging segment is very powerful. You don’t have to be in this business very long, however, to realize the landscape...

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