Here at First Round, we’re relentlessly focused on helping tiny companies get big. Over the years, we’ve found that there’s powerful, untapped knowledge out there that can help startups do just that — but it’s trapped in other people's heads.
We started the Review more than six years ago to solve this exact problem, making the bet that if we interviewed the folks who are at the top of their fields, they would more easily be able to share what they've learned with the broader tech community. Through our long-form profiles on seasoned leaders and thoughtful founders, we let the in-the-trenches experts speak directly to you on the startups challenges that may be keeping you up at night, whether that’s getting to product/market fit, deciding on a growth strategy, or hiring at a rapid pace.
But as our archive has expanded to over 400 articles, we’ve also pushed forward with another goal: to make it easier for our readers to wade through that company building wisdom. From putting together our must reads series to compiling our annual best 30 pieces of advice list to launching First Search, we’re always experimenting with new ways to surface the very best insights on particular topics and cut through the noise with a sharper knife.
For the past few months, we’ve been quietly working on another project to achieve that mission and today, we’re excited to share it more formally and introduce the First Round Essentials series, starting with our new book on management.
We’ve published a lot of articles in our Management Magazine over the past six years — 180 of them to be exact. And we’ve winnowed it down to 10 of our very favorites, collecting them into our first-ever book, available as a PDF for download or a physical volume to add to your bookshelf.
This summer we piloted Manager Track, a masterclass to help first-time managers at our community companies level up as leaders. In the program, we covered a wide range of topics such as feedback, communication and team performance over the course of multiple sessions — and we always sent ahead a handful of Review articles as preparation for the discussions.
But we found that this experience was missing a key piece of the puzzle. Folks weren't able to refer back to what they’d read, make notes in the margins or easily share this set of reads with others at their company.
We set out to create a more curated compilation of interviews from the Review archives to build a playbook for managers. After a few design and layout revs, we printed a small batch of paperback copies and started distributing them as handbooks. As word started to spread, we got requests for more and more copies from managers in our community.
So we decided to share what we put together more broadly. Whether it sits on your desk or your desktop, we wanted to create an always handy, beautifully packaged volume of advice — that’s why for both the digital and print versions of the book, we’ve spent time and effort into making sure the reader’s experience is an enjoyable one.
After settling into the manager’s role or taking on the work of building larger and larger teams, most quickly find that management isn’t just about being someone’s boss. It’s not just about performance reviews and hiring (or firing). It involves making decisions, scaling teams, setting the cultural tone, developing talent, and getting groups to work together and move quickly.
And as we’ve said before, a manager’s journey can often feel like a lonely uphill climb in the dark. Whether you’re transitioning from IC to manager for the first time, stepping into the manager-of-managers role or struggling as a founder to shift from building a product to building a company, management requires a distinct set of skills. And it will likely be wholly new and different from whatever it was you were excelling at before. That shift can be disorienting and daunting, to say the least.
A manager’s journey can often feel like a lonely uphill climb in the dark. Advice from those who’ve been in your shoes is the lantern that lights the path forward.
From frameworks that will help you execute with momentum and give your team autonomy, to tactics for leading impactful career conversations and helping others navigate the rapidly changing cultural waters of a fast-growing startup, this collection of articles will help you nail that transition.
We’ve selected insightful interviews that highlight the habits, processes and actions the best managers have used to grow themselves as leaders. We hope they do the same for you.
Over the course of five sections, this book covers:
Leveling up as a leader:
How you can increase your team's chances of success by holding your tongue and scaling back your own influence.
Why the leadership skill that makes a critical difference is the ability to tell good stories.
How to defang difficult decisions and rally everyone, even if they initially disagreed.
The secret to keeping things moving fast as you make and execute on massive decisions every day.
Scaling the company:
What rapid scaling actually feels like for employees at startups (hint: lots of anxiety), and how to lighten the load.
How to equip new people with the habits and principles they need to act like the founders would when faced with challenges.
Crafting the culture:
Five areas to take action to deactivate factionalism and even prevent it from forming in the first place.
What it looks like to live company values, plus tips for accelerating adoption and handling misinterpretation.
Why you need to be having career conversations, not performance reviews.
The reasons why talented people will leave and how to intervene.
We’re looking to add more volumes to this First Round Essentials series, so let us know what other topics you’d like to have in hard copy. (Spot-on hiring tactics? Time-tested fundraising advice?) What other formats would make your life easier? (Audiobooks?) Let us know on Twitter.