Awesome People - Ep 47

Exec coach, diversity, advisor network, SQL

Hi founders and fellow VC Friends!

Each week we deliver one awesome person to your inbox. These are the people you need to know—the marketers, sales gurus, engineers, ops wizzes— who give your startup superpowers 🚀. The best part is, everyone is hireable on a part-time basis. Diving right in!

Please meet Kenni Kaufman, Your Exec and People Coach ✨

Kenni was highly recommended by Anna Silverman, another Awesome Person, and interim recruiter. Anna and Kenni worked together at (text-message co that raised $35M+ from Ashton Kutcher and Salesforce) and Brud (the makers of Lil Miquela that raised a Series B based in LA). 

You can hire Kenni to: 

  • Level up your communication between management, teams, and individuals  

  • Build and implement diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) recruiting and culture strategies 

  • Coach your execs and employees to lead diverse teams

Before Kenni became a full-time consultant, she was the “Head of Studio” (the gaming world’s equivalent of Head of Product) at Magnopus. At Magnopus, she grew a diverse team from 30 to 150+ people, delivered Emmy-nominated work, and helped execs build strong relationships with the creative and technical teams. Previously, she grew teams from 20 to 300+ people, expanded companies and cultures across multiple offices, and built the teams that launched the NFL's first live-streamed game that attracted over 15 million viewers. Multiple people have described her as Oliva Pope!

She's trusted by media and gaming companies world-wide like NFL Digital and Horizon Media, and venture-backed startups like General Assembly and Omaze (non-profit fundraising platform that’s raised $42M). 

Want to improve your leadership, communication, or build a diverse team? Respond to this email and I’ll connect you with Kenni!

Kenni graciously shared a few tips to build a high performing and diverse team 🎉

Founders face a lot of pressure to build diverse teams, stop being so hard on yourself

I’ve consulted with a handful of co-founders who feel guilty for not starting their company with a diverse team. Most people start companies with their inner circle. They call friends, family, and close colleagues to hit the ground running. Let’s be honest, most people’s circles aren’t as diverse as they’d like. 

As you grow, the way your company looks should grow too. And of course, if you can have a diverse team Day 1, that’s great. If not, that’s okay too. What’s important are your intentions, your awareness of the benefits of a diverse team, and your willingness to hire different voices beyond your 5 friends.

Make sure to hire the right balance of executors and planners

The root of most conflict within growing organizations comes from people hiring all executors and no planners. Founders want people who can get things done and done fast. 

When your company is small (less than 50 employees), it’s important to balance doing things and doing the right things. If not, it’s easy to spend VC-dollars haphazardly at a million miles per hour. Invest in people who are talented in planning and strategy. 

Not too long ago, I worked with two co-founders who had very similar talents – they were both executors. They were great at raising money, getting people excited, and bringing new ideas to the table. The team was filled with people like them. Unfortunately, they quickly burned through their capital with tons of great ideas partially executed. Their rockstar workers, beautiful office, and expensive perks couldn’t save them. They needed planners to keep their mid and long-term goals in mind. Planners make sure you pick and execute on the best subset of ideas, before moving on. Balance is critical for every team.

Think about diversity beyond what you can see

Most people think about diversity at a surface level (ethnicity, religion, race, gender, etc). Strive for diversity of ideas too. 

Those who know me have heard me say this many times: Teams should be molded after the R&B group TLC.

TLC was a group from the nineties who had three female members with completely different talents (T-Boz, with her frank and raw tenor tone. Left Eye, with her hip-hop lyrical prowess. Chilli, with the silky smooth tone and sense of coolness). They had to collaborate as a team, a unit. Teams should be built this way. A team with 100 rockstars is a team with 100 people competing to be the “lead singer.” Instead, build a team with a few rockstars, backup singers, talented band members, and up-and-comers. 

Understand who you are as a leader

Being a founder is tough. Building a company comes with the expectation of leadership. Not every founder is born a leader. That’s okay! Hire people who have the expertise to lead teams and have your back. True leadership is owning your growth opportunities and having the confidence to hire people to help. 

Interested in chatting with Kenni? Email me and I’ll connect you!

Yay! Awesome People Advisor Network  😍

Introducing the Awesome People advisor network! Our goal is to help startups scale faster and avoid costly mistakes. The right advisors and guidance can 10x your outcome. 

We’re starting with a bench of advisors who work with healthcare and wellness startups (super important cos!). Our advisors are former founders and execs from One Medical, Peloton, CityMD, Kaiser, and more. 

  • If you’re a founder, engineering, product, or marketing leader and want to level-up your game, request advisors here. Advisors can help with strategic decisions, team building, and serve as a sounding board. 

  • If you want to do more advising work (for healthcare cos or any type of co), apply to join the network here

Questions? Feedback? I’m all ears!

As always, let me know if you have any questions and if you want an intro to Kenni!

Stay awesome,

Julia Lipton

Founder of Awesome People and Awesome People Ventures

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If someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up here 💌

P.S. Aka, the section with the random gems 😂

A gift for my technical friends! Try Arctype,  a fast and friendly SQL Client🚀

I like to geek out on dev tools that my friends love. Arctype is picking up steam in the developer community. Do you use PostgreSQL and MySQL? Do the engineers on your team? If so, send them Arctype and they’ll love you.

Arctype is the first SQL client to take inspo from modern tools like Notion and Figma. It has collaboration features and a beautiful design. If you try it, please let me know your product feedback.

H/t to Josh Schlisserman (VC) and Ben Schaechter (founder of Vantage).

Full disclosure: I’m not an investor (yet!), just a fangirl.

Know any freelance product designers?

A few friends and port cos need product designers. Know awesome freelance product designers? Let me know and I may be able to hook them up with some solid projects!

Most recent Awesome People 🙏

Elizabeth - Executive performance coach. She comes highly recommended by Atlas, one of the top founder coaching companies that I trust. Elizabeth works with founders to lead less stressed, more sustainable lifestyles, and widen their definitions of success.

Jason - Fundraising coach. He's a trusted advisor in the LA startup community and Silicon Valley Bank’s go-to-partner for fundraising coaching.

Nick - iOS Developer. Most recently, he built Watch DogBuzzfeed TastyPlayboy Coloring Book, and Nike SNKRS. He’s a big fan of motion design, specifically animations and transitions.

❤️ ❤️ ❤️