15 Business Lessons from Irwin Federman

One of the benefits of being an ACG member is the opportunity to meet and listen to amazing people. Recently, I had an opportunity to meet and listen to Irwin Federman, General Partner at US Venture Partners. The talk was awesome and I am so glad, I had my notebook with me to capture many insights from the talk. What you will see below is a partial list as I was not fast enough to capture all the golden nuggets.

Note: All the lessons outlined below came from the story he shared about his first startup (Monolithic Memories, Inc.) as a CEO. The startup got sold to AMD for what was the biggest software deal of its kind at that time.

So, here we go. Here are the 15 business lessons from Irwin Federman

1. While striving to be unique is important, the magical power is in finding what’s common.

2. A hole in the organization is better than a cancer in the organization | Action item: Fire fast!

3. The confidence that come from key people giving their vote of confidence in your leadership is amazing.

4. Confer enough authority and most people will get paralyzed. They will self-police to a fault.

5. A good person coming back to work for you elevates the confidence of those remaining as their belief for staying back is validated.

6. People who have nothing to lose are powerful, terrifying and can hurt you | Action item: Think a dozen times before fighting with one of those.

7. You get much more credit to fixing the problem than for avoiding that problem to occur in the first place |Side note: That does not mean that you should manufacture a crisis and fix it.

8. You can make your own rules. Try it.

9. Strength is the ability to absorb a blow and not to deliver one.

10. Honest person is one who delivers on the expectation that he or she sets.

11. The greatest faith one can have is to have faith in someone else’s faith.

12. The best thing a board can do is to hire the right CEO.

13. The key in a reference check is to find out how the person behaved during bough times. Everyone is a hero during the good times.

14. Anything other than optimism is a failed course of action. What benefit would you get by not believing in yourself?

15. Leadership in an organization can well-up in an organization from the most non-intuitive places | Side note: Learn to recognize the signs early.

Thanks Irwin for the inspiring talk. Also, thanks to Sally Pera (Pera Connect) for urging me to come. It was an amazing event.