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Frank Slootman (CEO, Snowflake) - ILTB - the highlander gains strength when he kills another

Great interview with Snowflake CEO, Frank Slootman from Invest Like the Best: here

Slootman talks about ‘narrowing the focus’ reminds me of the ‘hedge hog’ concept from good to great – again highlighting how simplicity always wins!


Getting the right people: You’re not inspecting the people – you’re inspecting the work. If something isn’t working properly – make decisions quickly. At Snowflake … (Slootman) made all the changes within 90 days … today (3yrs on) he hasn’t made any other significant changes

Finding good people: Slootman believes you don’t learn much from an interview. The key is to find people who worked with them – ask them what they were like – very quickly you will get an understanding of how they operate by talking to their network

Focusing: Henry Kissinger – nothing clears the mind like a lack of options.

Narrowing the focus: Product must blow your face off – if it doesn’t – why are we bothering? Snowflake uses the word – ‘dazzling’. If you have a list of 5 priorities – you’re already wrong – you should have one. If you spread your resources an inch deep, mile-long … you’re already dead. A lot of organisations can’t get out of their own way – they have too much going on.

Building trust: Slootman just did a session with Pat Lencioni (author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team) on the importance of trust. You don’t just get trust – it is earnt. Go to incredible lengths built – use the words ‘I’ve got your back’ … The more difficult information you share … the more likely people will trust you. Discipline is key – everyone is on the same price card – never want a customer to hear another customer got a better deal

Finding the right solutions: "This is what you need to do." No, they need to say, "This is the problem you need to solve." Otherwise, you're constraining the possible outcomes already. In other words, they have a view of what the solution is.

Sales v product: Very few have the intellectual honesty to consider the product is wrong … not the sales. Constantly see founders firing their VP of sales v changing the product

Mastering distribution: At Data Domain, they had 15x the exit value of their nearest competitor because they were very effective at sales versus that competitor – sales was inhouse – not farmed out.

Playbooks: Don’t believe you can just take a playbook from one company and apply it to another – needs to be situational and first principles. Principals are good guardrails.

Growth: It's vitally important – it is what separates the winners from the losers. Must incorporate the question – ‘what can we grow at’ – must be able to think through it

No excuses: Need to find ways to continue to grow regardless. When COVID began – started to hear the word every day … told staff that he didn’t want to hear the word anymore … ‘there is no excuse for not showing up. It’s a discipline. It’s a mindset’

Highlander analogy: When one software company takes another’s top sales person and engineer it is like the Highlander who gets strength from killing another


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