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Starting Greatness on Smash Notes

Starting Greatness podcast.

February 23, 2020

Host Mike Maples Jr from venture capital firm FLOODGATE offers lessons from the startup super performers—BEFORE they were successful—featuring interviews with some of Silicon Valley’s most legendary entrepreneurs and thought leaders, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger, and more.



Episodes with Smash Notes

We’re taught from a young age about *finite* sporting games like baseball, basketball, and soccer. Or board games like checkers or chess. Or academic games like grades and test scores. Or status games like credentials and university degrees. In these games, we know the rules and how to determine who scored the highest, according to rules set by someone else. But what about *infinite* games, where the rules and players are changeable, and the primary goal is to keep the game going? In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses how Shopify founder Tobi Lutke exemplifies the advantages of playing the Infinite Game and how to tell when business leaders have fallen into the trap of finite games at the expense of achieving their mission.

Growing up in Germany, Shopify co-founder and CEO Tobi Lutke was never quite comfortable with people telling him to do things because that's the way they're done. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE interviews Lutke to discuss the origins of Shopify, the difference between finite games and infinite games, and the reason it's important for startups and companies to always question assumptions imposed by "experts."

Too many people mistakenly believe that being a good entrepreneur comes from simply talking to customers and solving their pain. But the most impactful companies are built for aesthetic reasons - think of Twitter, Lyft, Apple, and Medium - and those companies serve as expressions of what their founders thought the world needed. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses the success of Pandora’s visionary founder Tim Westergren, and offers three tips for founders looking to bring a more aesthetically beautiful future to the world.

Tim Westergren maxed out 11 credit cards, racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, and was rejected 348 times for a second round of funding for his revolutionary idea for a music streaming platform. But like any true artist, Westergren remained committed to his vision of creating an aesthetically more beautiful future with Pandora, and now the company boasts more than 6 million monthly subscribers. Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE interviews Westergren to discuss the company’s humble beginnings, why it took an act of Congress to keep the company alive, and why both men believe the best founders are artists who can sell their vision.

If you’re a startup founder simply waiting around for a lightning in a bottle moment to find you, we have some bad news. Startup success doesn't happen overnight. You need to design your path to greatness, including your co-founder, your market, your category, your team and your culture. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses why “Big D Design” was essential for so many successful startups, and how the fundamental tenets of intentional design should extend beyond how you run your company, and into how you live your life.

Your startup will face multiple WFIO moments on the path to greatness...COUNT ON IT. But that doesn’t mean you should let these moments get inside your head. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses how every startup team MUST be prepared to take the initiative in the crucible of the WFIO moments they will inevitably face. The bright side? You can use these horrible situations as defining moments to show everyone that your startup is destined to defeat the impossible.

Startups are romanticized AFTER they win. But it takes extraordinary grit to have what it TAKES to win. Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen-Horowitz, is the perfect guest to tell it like it is, as he has for many years in his books "the Hard Thing About Hard Things" and "What You Do Is Who You Are." Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE interviews Ben to discuss the ups and downs of dealing with "the struggle," and why the best startup leaders are often the ones who simply refused to quit.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel understands that the task of a revolutionary startup is to manifest a radically different future, and not merely settle for a marginal improvement. But how did he make that future a reality with messenger RNA Therapeutics, and how can you do it with your startup? In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE goes in-depth on the three strategies to designing a future where your startup achieves greatness: Play offense with risk, use the Backcasting method, and connect the future to the present.

What’s it like to run a startup that has achieved its goal of impacting humanity at a time of desperate need? Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel joins Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE to discuss the power of taking offensive risks to seize unlikely futures with massive upside, sometimes with the result of changing the odds of life itself. For founders seeking greatness, the conversation also teases out many of the enduring lessons of how we can increase the odds of creating massive breakthroughs.

Rahul Vohra shows us how game design can be used to make business products far more engaging and contribute to a state of flow. Since future success in business software and services is increasingly driven by product-led growth and bottoms-up adoption driven by end-users, mastering game design is vital for startups seeking greatness. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr talks about the specific and actionable steps you can take to harness the power of game design in your products.

Rahul Vohra of Superhuman has adopted some of the most cutting-edge approaches to making a business product people *want* to use, rather than have to use. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE talks to Rahul about how any startup founder can apply the principles of game design to their products, and why this is becoming increasingly important in a world where users (rather than IT) increasingly decide which products win.