Wes Kao 🏛 Profile picture
Co-founder @MavenHQ (a16z, First Round). Co-founder of Seth Godin’s altMBA. Honest insights on how to become a high-performing IC and leader
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Jan 23 8 tweets 2 min read
After doing founder sales for 9 years, this is one of my biggest lessons: Don't let customers turn molehills into mountains.

As founders, we are so excited about our product/industry that we can accidentally give customers words to use against us.

This is shooting ourselves in the foot.
Aug 23, 2023 18 tweets 3 min read
Most people suck at managing up.

They waste their boss’ time with too much or too little information.

Here’s how I give the right amount of context (in any situation): Star employees are exceptional at communicating and managing up.

This is even more important in a remote working environment.

They proactively communicate to show they've got it handled and prevent endless one-off questions.
Jul 27, 2023 15 tweets 3 min read
Most people suck at asking for things.

Here’s an easy framework for how to ask (and get a yes): You and I can’t do everything on our own.

Sheer willpower isn’t enough to push something through by yourself. Trust me, I’ve tried.

90% of the time, you need other people’s support and cooperation.

At a minimum, you don’t want them to block you.

You need their buy-in.
Mar 21, 2023 11 tweets 3 min read
Framing is key when you share your ideas at work.

Here’s a quick way to get your boss to perk up and listen: If you dive right into sharing your recommendation, your boss won't be primed to hear it.

They’ll wonder, “Is this even a problem worth solving? Why does this matter?"

They won't appreciate your solution if they don't even think there's a problem.
Mar 20, 2023 7 tweets 2 min read
Teaching your audience something new is one of the fastest ways to build trust.

Here's a simple framework for how to create impactful educational content:

Personal
Actionable
Concrete
Tactical
Specific

Personal: "This isn't generic advice I've heard a million times before" Actionable: "I can put it into practice and apply it to my own work"

Concrete: "This can be observed and measured--not just theory"

Tactical: "This isn't a generic idea I've heard a million times before"

Specific: "This is precise advice for a particular situation"
Mar 9, 2023 7 tweets 3 min read
Some folks say “Avoid jargon! People don't know what x means!”

Actually the best marketers use jargon to repel folks who aren’t a fit–and to attract the right customers.

Here are 3 examples of jargon used effectively: This isn’t about using big words or acronyms to sound sophisticated.

It means using industry terms when it makes sense to.

And not “dumbing down” your content to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Mar 2, 2023 23 tweets 5 min read
Next time you think your product has a problem--stop.

It's not a bug, it's a feature.

A simple framework for turning problems into solutions: 🧵 Marketers are often put in a tight spot.

Here’s a common situation:

CEO: "We have a product launch coming up. We need you to make people want this.”

You: “Umm I wish you had looped me in earlier. If it had x or y feature, it would be a lot easier to market.”
Feb 24, 2023 8 tweets 2 min read
New milestone reached: We just kicked off the 10th cohort of the Maven Course Accelerator 🔥

Two years ago: Our product was a Notion page and our beta cohort had 10 instructors.

Today: We’re an all-in-one platform, and our latest cohort has 500+ instructors. I’m blown away by the caliber of experts currently building their courses on Maven:

• Head of Product, PayPal
• Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan
• Head of Health Tech, Meta
• Head of Data Science, CZI
• Head of Pricing Strategy, Uber
• Director of Engineering, Google
Feb 16, 2023 11 tweets 3 min read
Most people think building a course is all about marketing.

And they're right.

Luckily when I say "marketing," I don’t mean hawking your wares. I mean adding value to people who would be glad to know you exist.

Here are 7 ways to market your course (without being salesy): 1. Sharpen your positioning

Pick a topic you’re credible in, where there's market demand, and you can talk about it for hours w/o preparation.

• What questions do you get asked all the time?
• What would you be invited to guest lecture on?
• What do you love talking about? Image
Feb 14, 2023 10 tweets 2 min read
A well-written bio is one of the best ways to show your credibility.

But most people waste this opportunity by rehashing their resume: “I went to X school. I worked at Y companies.”

Instead, write your bio like it's sales copy.

Here’s how: You might think credibility is about working at fancy brands.

That might get your audience to perk up initially…

But it’s not enough to get them to buy.
Jan 25, 2023 8 tweets 3 min read
Two years ago, if you wanted to build a course, you needed to be an:

- Expert
- Teacher
- Video editor
- Community manager
- Experienced marketer

Today, with Maven you mainly need to be an expert.

Here are 6 instructors & how you can turn your knowledge into a course: 1. High-performing operator

Your advantages:
• Credibility
• Tactical know-how
• Decade of hard-earned insights

What might be hard:
• Narrowing your topic. You almost always have multiple courses in you.

Ex: Diana Stepner, People-First Product Leadership course
Jan 18, 2023 10 tweets 2 min read
Shout out to all my fellow over-thinkers...

My new year’s intention for 2023 is to worry less. I’ve had the same resolution for a few years.

Here are 5 habits that helped me worry less (that might help you, too): A few years ago, I was struck with a realization.

In the middle of my usual cycle of worrying, a little voice inside said,

"This thing you're worried about doesn't deserve to take up space in your head."
Jan 5, 2023 12 tweets 3 min read
Raise your hand if this has happened to you:

You: "So how can I help?”

Stranger: “Great question. Let me share some context…”

20 minutes of monologue later, you've zoned out and forgotten why you’re on the call. 

I call this backstory scope creep.

Here’s how to avoid it: We've all been there.

Long-winded and meandering explanations that lead down rabbit holes—all in the name of "giving context."

I've been guilty of it myself.
Dec 22, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
Too often, we only think about the things we did wrong in our careers.

Our brains are wired to focus on negative events.

- What we wish we had said
- What we wish we had done
- What we wish had turned out differently

This is why it's important to remember: You can proactively counteract this skewed story.

You’ve done lots of things right.

- You’ve made solid decisions.
- You’ve had brilliant insights.
- You've handled awkward situations with finesse.

and…
Dec 13, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
You send a pitch email.

Your recipient opens your note. This is their first and main question:

“What’s in it for me?”

Here’s how to make sales pitches about your reader & get an enthusiastic response: It’s normal to want to talk about yourself.

But a pitch is about your product or service *only in relation to your audience.*

This is why it’s important to put mechanisms in place to catch when you’re being too me-focused.

5 questions to ask yourself before hitting send:
Dec 7, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
The phrase “personal branding" feels kind of icky.

Many high performers are focused on doing the work, not on managing optics.

Unfortunately this means well-deserving people often get the least credit.

Here’s why you should aim for “personal credibility" instead: How are the two different?

Personal branding can have a superficial undertone.

It assumes you have your work, then you tack on an artificial layer of “branding” to shape perceptions.
Dec 5, 2022 8 tweets 2 min read
Fun fact: Many companies have L&D stipends for employees to invest in courses, books, conferences, etc.

Almost 50% of @MavenHQ students get their courses reimbursed. But these budgets usually expire on Dec 31.

Here's how to get reimbursed (and what to say to your manager): 1. Give your manager a heads up

Let your manager know you’re interested in a course that will improve your work. Ask if you can send details over email.

You could just send the info, but getting their buy-in upfront makes the conversation feel more collaborative from the start.
Nov 23, 2022 12 tweets 3 min read
How do you stand out in a crowded hiring market?

Think of yourself like a product during the interview.

Here are 5 examples (and scripts you can use): When you interview for roles, you might feel self-conscious that you're not good enough compared to other candidates competing for a role.

This is exactly when you need to stop yourself from spiraling.

Instead, think about turning bugs into features.
Nov 15, 2022 4 tweets 1 min read
Writing well for Twitter/LinkedIn is great but IMO writing well as an operator is even more valuable.

There’s some overlap between the two of course. But it can be a very different kind of writing (because it’s a different kind of thinking). You might assume if someone writes clearly on one platform, that extends elsewhere.

But I’ve seen folks write great threads/essays/LinkedIn posts but write unclear Slack messages, confusing internal emails, and Notion strategy docs that don’t make sense.

And vice versa.
Nov 12, 2022 6 tweets 1 min read
Living in the past is sad.

That’s why I try to be “nostalgic in the moment.”

What does this mean? Nostalgia is the feeling of being wistful about the past. It’s a bittersweet (happy and sad) feeling.

Some people like being nostalgic. They like thinking about old friends, old memories, and times that have come to pass.

But I’ve always disliked it.
Nov 10, 2022 13 tweets 3 min read
The best marketers aren't only good at marketing.

They have expertise in adjacent disciplines too.

Under the hood, they're also good at sales. Or product. Or design. Or copywriting.

To level up in marketing, study these non-marketing topics: 1. Copywriting

Strengthen your copy and you’ll strengthen your execution. You might have brilliant ideas but if you can’t express them… No one cares.

• Sounding corporate vs human
• When to break grammar rules
• Writing to persuade
• Visual layout of text