Data + CDOs  |  Sharmila Mulligan  |  May 28, 2013

Why this Blog?

We’ve shared a lot at ClearStory about the big data landscape, and how we think we have something new and important to contribute to the ability of organizations across the world to use data to compete more effectively.

But we haven’t talked much about ourselves. That’s changing today, with the start of this CEO Blog.

Now, you may already be thinking, “Great – just what the world needs; more entrepreneurs blogging about their startups.” I’m certainly sympathetic with that opinion. I’ve worked in Silicon Valley for 21 years, through five startups, and was lucky enough for nearly all of them to have been a success of one kind or another.

That gives me a certain perspective on all the CEO blogs out there. With many, even most of them, I am impressed with their candor and hard-won wisdom. But others leave me disappointed, for one reason or another.

In many cases, the CEO is simply talking about the company’s product or the market need it fills. There’s nothing at all wrong with that, but it belongs on one of the product pages of a website, as opposed to a CEO blog, which most people like to read for insights into the process of entrepreneurship and the journey, rather than for product or technology specifics.

Other blogs commit much worse sins. I see a fair number in which folks try to pass off platitudes, clichéd statements and random bits of 20/20 hindsight as precious nuggets of managerial thought. And once in a while, I wonder if the tale being told in a CEO blog isn’t just some old-fashioned PR embellishment, prettied up in the presumably more “authentic” narrative styles used in social media.

I’m guessing you’ve occasionally felt the same way. Which is why I am going to do my best in this CEO Blog to avoid the pitfalls of the genre.

I plan to write as honestly as possible about things I know and care about. What makes a great startup? What do you look for to know you are picking the right one? How do you find the right product-market fit — something I’ve been doing for 20 years. How do you identify and grow great people in the process, since there’s no better place to see real talent emerge than a small, transparent startup. How do you balance life with the pace of a startup; an issue faced especially, but not exclusively, by women. What’s involved in keeping true to your vision as a founder, while at the same time appreciating the potential contributions of the people you’re working with?

I won’t just be talking about life at ClearStory; I’ll also be referencing my other startup experiences. You’ll be able to hear about some of the interesting and insightful conversations I have with other entrepreneurs, through my advisory and board roles at other companies. I’ll also be writing about the occasional high-intensity moments that entrepreneurs find themselves in. But also the many great delights of growing a startup, across every part of the company. The best entrepreneurs do what they do because they love what they’re building and are excited about the world being able to see it. For them, the journey is not just highly fulfilling, but downright thrilling. I myself don’t view my role as founder and CEO as ‘hard work’ or a ‘career.’ I actually love it, and no single day feels like a ‘job’ to me. That’s how it should be.

Just as there is no single perfect formula for being an entrepreneur, so too is there no single sure-fire formula for writing a blog about a startup and entrepreneurship. But in my 20-plus years of growing startups, I’ve usually managed to find answers that strike the right balance among all the many moving parts, something that I’ll discuss with this series. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these blogs, and will keep coming back as our journey continues.

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