10 lessons from my 20s

One lesson from each year I’ve been twenty-something. I turn 30 this year, so it felt appropriate to distill the learnings from my favorite failures and successes before time takes the teeth out of them. While most readers will have left their twenties in the rearview, I hope this Letter can be helpful to your children, and provide some

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The Vulgar Math of Exploding Automobiles

In late 1968, Ford’s swashbuckling Executive Vice President, Lee Iacocca, was shaking in his boots. Convinced that VW’s beetle and a swell of Japanese imports would subsume the American car market unless Ford countered with a subcompact of its own, Lee greenlit a production schedule that would make the 737 MAX look thorough. From clean

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Eat Dog Food, in Moderation Only

Clement Lang Hirsch was pretty eccentric, even by LA billionaire standards. In the thirties, Clement decided he wanted to get into greyhound racing, and bought his first furball for $2.50. Discount dog was perhaps a dubious value, quickly falling into duress. Rather than put him out to pasture, the enterprising Mr. Hirsch started feeding Fido

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MECE Taxonomies

MECE: McKinsey’s Secret Sauce? There was once a young Harvard MBA named Barbara Minto. The year was 1963, and McKinsey & Co.‘s Cleveland bureau let it be known they wanted a female MBA to join the office as an associate. Barbara came at the job as a skilled writer, not a number cruncher. By the time she left

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Where’s the Dealflow?

The flour and eggs of the private market investing recipe are dealflow and analysis. Dealflow, in particular, is such an obsession for early stage investors that they will do almost anything to get an edge on it. Conferences halfway around the world? Let’s fly. Two hours of my life every month getting pitched by moonlighters

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You Don’t Rise to the Occasion

August ninth, 2009 was the day Cris Collinsworth sat down across the table from Al Michaels on NBC’s venerable Sunday Night Football and evicted John Madden from our living rooms. We lost a lot that day, but we also gained something dubious; the concept that football teams, like Olympic hopefuls, Presidents, and divas before them,

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The odd science of adherence

It’s a week into January, 2020. How are your New Years’ Resolutions going? Was this the year you were going to lose weight? Spend more time with your kids? Organize the basement? Are you on track? Staying on track with your resolutions is an eery corollary to staying on track with anything of great importance;

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Do you know your Master KPI?

The Urbach Letter 12/9/19 Do you know your Master KPI? The idea that KPIs are anything new or special is laughable. Since the first caveman sold some antelope hindquarters for two rocks and a stick, businesses have been tracking the metrics that matter for them. Revenue. Costs. Profits. New Customers. Churn. Somewhere along the line, a corporate

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The Gift of Nothing

Black Friday came and went with a whisper this year. Tell that to the habitual rioters and shamers, they still came out in force. The pundits are blaming the dull roar on an unprecedented “tidal shift” of shopping to mobile e-Commerce. We’ll find out if they’re right shortly – today is Cyber Monday. Tell me

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