A smart man, who grew a company into $1.5B in annual revenue and was GP at Sequoia, recently explained to me me that you can win a lot by making others think you’re doing something you are not necessarily doing. And win. Perception.
Think about dating.
You really want to date this amazing lady, but truth be told she is has a better smile, she is taller, maybe even smarter than your average date. To get her, you need perception. She needs to think there is something she doesn’t know yet in you but is worth experimenting. Perception
Think about hiring.
You are yet to be Google, but you want Googlers to work for you. You can pay them double what they are making, you can give them 1/20 of your company, you can ask them really nicely to join you if you have the charisma. Maybe they will. Alternatively, you can use perception. You can help them see that it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to take a risk, maybe it’s them or someone else who is going to take the job, maybe someone they know and admire, and if he is considering maybe they should to. Perception
Think about raising money.
Jim Breyer tells Erick Schonfeld that he sees 10k media companies, but invest in 10. 0.1% is a rather depressing figure. Whether you believe Jim or not, to stand out, to make ‘a Jim’ think you’re a company he wants to put a buck in, your strategy cannot be go in and pitch a deck. He needs to look forward to meeting you, he needs to have multiple touch points with your company, with you, he needs you to create it for him, he is practically asking you to do it. To create Perception. Maybe others are already interested, maybe you’re the next Sergey, maybe you’re a moment from getting a client that will prevent him from being able to invest. Make the 0.1% cut. Perception.
Think about selling your company.
A good friend of mine sold his company for over $100M. In the process of selling the company, there was an offer on the table. The CEO had to travel (let’s call him the traveling-CEO), and just before he left ground the potential buyer sent an email asking to meet. The traveling-CEO left ground, never got to see the email, and unfortunately, the flight could not land and they circled above the airport for long hours. The buying company got stressed thinking there is a change of heart, and emailed again, essentially negotiating with themselves– “we’ll pay more. Meet us”. The travling-CEO landed. Sold and for more. Perception.
Think about competition.
Your competitors might strategize against you, try to block you out of the market. This is assuming you have a good competitor that actually has a strategy. Trying different things is expensive though, especially as “changing strategies” is expensive. What if you could lead your competitor to think you’re about to do something, something they think they can expect you to do, but instead of making a left turn, you’re making a right turn while they invested so much resources to wait for you after the left corner. Void. Moot. Nada. Nobody is coming. Money lost, energy spent, strategize all over again. A board member at Taboola, Zvi Limon, who was senior in the consultancy industry, explains to me that it’s cheaper and faster to drive a slow car straight from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem than driving a super car from Tel Aviv to Eilat, make a round, and go to Jerusalem.
Don’t sell out to the obvious path. It’s usually expensive, timely and risky. Stop to think. Take your time. Run different scenarios. It’s phenomenal what you can gain by actually not doing anything and think. Circle around the airport, you might sell your company for more money, get the date, raise good money and win competition.