67th Edition – May 17, 2020
The blazing fire makes flames and brightness out of everything thrown into it.Marcus Aurelius
1. Fred Wilson Circa 2010
For all you entrepreneurs out there, the three cash related numbers you need to be on top of are current cash balance, cash burn rate, and months of runway.
If Fred resurrected his MBA Mondays today, he’d say the same thing.
2. Speaking of cash …
One of the best sections of any book about CEO skills is found in Chapter 7 of The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. He states that the most difficult skill he learned as CEO was the ability to manage his own psychology (page 201).
Horowitz goes on to add that a friend took on a CEO role at NING during a cash crisis. The new CEO faced one of three migraine-inducing decisions due to the scarcity of cash. Then, Horowitz offers the following friendly advice:
If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
Replace CEO with CFO, and the advice still applies.
3. Retained Learnings
Who doesn’t enjoy a good reading list by an influencer we admire, a website we frequently read, or by friends who have a knack for suggesting great books?
MITIMCo manages some $17 billion in assets for MIT to support its educational and research mission. They have a page listing 21 books the investors recommend. Here are some random thoughts on a few selections:
- Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd is a fascinating inclusion as it’s a marketing book.
- Investing: The Last Liberal Art – loved it. But I find it odd that there are no works of fiction given that this book is listed.
- The Outsiders should be read by every CEO – I even like it better than Good to Great.
- Creativity, Inc. is the best book I’ve ever read about the importance of culture (thank you, Ed Catmull).
- The Halo Effect is one of the few books I read annually and recommend to every consultant that I coach.
Additionally, I’m impressed that McKeown’s, Essentialism is listed. If you have teens or older kids, gift it to them.
4. Misunderstanding Expertise
This past week, I was asked to participate in the 10th London FP&A Circle to be held next month. Don’t ask me how or why, but my mind started racing around the concept of expertise – and when I think about expertise, I think of K. Anders Ericsson. If you recognize the name, it’s because he was referenced in Gladwell’s book, Outliers along with Newport’s, Deep Work.
If the topic of expertise intrigues you, skip the books and read the HBR article by Ericsson entitled The Making of an Expert. My favorite part of the article is about the assumptions we get wrong on expertise:
- accounts of expertise are typically unreliable
- many people are wrongly believed to possess expertise
- gut instincts only go so far
- you don’t need a new putter
- expertise isn’t captured by knowledge management systems
My other favorite takeaway – lots of deliberate practice and finding a coach and/or mentor is required when making serious skills investments.
By the way, huge honor to participate in that circle of FP&A excellence and creativity.
5. Simplifying Google Research
Certain parts of my work require lots of research, so I’m always looking for ways to speed up my work – for instance:
- after the search string, add Filetype:ext (e.g., Payroll Protection Program Filetype:pdf)
- include #..# to search between a pair of numbers (corporate fraud cfo 2000..2003)
- use the minus key to exclude results (e.g. best business books -novels)
Bonus Google hack – you do realize your PC slows down when you have about 48 links open from all that research, right? Try OneTab for Chrome for a week or two. You’ll love it.
Thank You For Reading
If you like the content above and the posts at CFO Bookshelf, may I ask a favor? Feel free to share this with other readers along with commenting on your favorite blog posts on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
Take care and stay confident and strong this week. Always be learning and growing in times of hardship.