Starting Greatness with Mike Maples, Jr. (All ‘Lessons of Greatness’ Episodes)

This is a master post featuring the Key Takeaways from the ‘Lessons of Greatness’ episodes of Mike Maples’ (@m2jr) new podcast, Starting Greatness. We’ll update this post regularly as new episodes drop.

Lessons of Greatness: Hack Value Before Hacking Growth | Episode 3

  • Take potentially great ideas and test them in a small way
    • Give yourself permission to fail, or tweak the idea, before expanding
  • “Time and again, the great startup founders hack value before hacking growth. The reverse is also true: Spending money to grow before you’re ready usually leads to disaster.” – Mike Maples
  • “A startup is not a company; it has to hack its way to becoming a company someday” – Mike Maples
    • The first hack: insight hacking (having an unconventional idea)
    • The second hack: value hacking; to value hack, you must check 3 boxes:
      • Figure out what you can uniquely do that people are desperate for
      • Identify a focus group of customers that desperately need your solution
      • Iterate and improve your value proposition relentlessly until you start to see signs of exponential organic growth
    • The third hack: growth hacking
  • A few notes on value hacking:
    • Avoid trying to sell when value hacking – you’re instead trying to learn the truth about how you can create massive and unique value for the customer (which will enable you to scale later on)
    • “If your value proposition as a startup isn’t true enough, and your customer isn’t desperate enough, you won’t grow exponentially or organically. You’ll instead have to spend money to overcome the objections to the gaps in your value proposition.”Mike Maples
      • This is how many startups go off the rails – after raising a series A, they spend money on fake growth to overcome their failure to deliver a true value proposition
    • “NEVER skip value hacking” – Mike Maples
      • And: Only start to think about growth after you’ve proven your value hypothesis 

Lessons of Greatness: You Need a Breakthrough Insight | Episode 2

  • Mike starts the episode with an audio clip from Wealthfront co-founder Andy Rachleff (see these Podcast Notes for more):
    • Entrepreneurship can be described with a 2×2 matrix: On one dimension, you can be right or wrong; on the other dimension, you can be consensus or non-consensus
      • If you’re wrong, you don’t make money
      • But, and most don’t realize this, if you’re right and consensus, you also don’t make money (the returns get arbitraged away)
      • “The only way to make outsized returns as an investor or entrepreneur is to be right and non-consensus” – Andy Rachleff
  • “If you aspire to create a great product, consider one simple fact: Great breakthroughs come from insights that defy conventional wisdom.”Mike Maples
    • Related: “All of the greatest breakthrough came from unconventional insights” 
  • “As soon a business opportunity becomes apparent to even a small number of people, the odds begin to work against the startup”Mike Maples
    • Mike calls this “the startup law of the jungle”
      • Startups are initially very vulnerable to predators and hazards (like a newborn animal on the plains) 
      • Being non-consensus and right affords the startup the time to survive, adapt, and succeed – no one preys on them because no one believes their idea’s important

Intro Episode: Why Greatness is a Decision | Episode 1

  • Mike has quite the entrepreneurial background
    • He started his first business in 6th grade as a professional calligrapher
    • In high school, Mike and his brother created and sold video games for the original IBM PC
    • Later on, Mike was involved in back-to-back startup IPOs as a founder
    • Mike has been startup investing since 2005
      • In 2008, Mike co-founded the seed firm, Floodgate – the companies they’ve backed are worth more than $50 billion total
  • “My podcast is for founders who’ve not yet achieved product-market-fit” – Mike Maples
    • Need help delivering a unique product that people are desperate for, getting customers, finding investors, or getting awesome employees? – Mike’s podcast is the place for you
  • “Ambitious startup founders are vital to forging a path to a better future” – Mike Maples
  • “Startups are hard. There are no easy answers or standard recipes. There is no one-size-fits-all advice. But, there are ways to get through the uncertainty. And there are ways to ask better questions. You can be empowered in the face of uncertainty, rather than confused or intimidated.”Mike Maples
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