Introducing The 1% Better Leader

A newsletter by me, Kiko Homem de Mello, CEO of Qulture.Rocks

Hey [1],

Starting today, I’m going back to my roots at Qulture.Rocks and producing a weekly(~ish) newsletter to be shared with friends, partners, and the community at large. 

As you might have noticed, Qulture.Weekly morphed into an HR-centric newsletter that’s owned by our awesome marketing team. The 1% Better Leader will be curated and written by myself, and focused around the needs of people like me, who are leading - or helping others lead - high-growth companies (as investors, mentors, founders, CEOs, and executives). 

The idea is to mostly share content (written by me or others) about management, but I’ll also share interesting ideas and pieces I’ve been thinking or reading about that might have more to do with strategy, history, science, and other cool subjects. What I hope to give you is a handful of very interesting content that may make your week more interesting and that may drive an 1% improvement in your performance.

You may find typos and other sorts of mistakes in here. This is not my day job, as my investors and Q.Players would expect, so I hope you’ll be patient and stick with me :)

The CEO bible, productivity and other shenanigans

On this inaugural edition, I’ll share an awesome resource that’s widely read amongst founders in Silicon Valley: an ebook called The Great CEO Within. It was written by CEO coach Matt Mochary, who’s worked with people like Sam Altman (YC, OpenAI,) Ryan Petersen (Flexport,) Bastian Lehmann (Postmates,) and Brian Armstrong (Coinbase,) as well as with funds like Sequoia and Benchmark, so no more credentials needed. The Great CEO Within is not rocket science, but distills quite nicely some principles and tips around how executives can be more effective in their roles. The ebook is only available as a Google Doc, and can be found for free here.

What I found most interesting: Matt’s description of GTD has stuck with me since I first read the book (about 2 years ago) and have even been morphed into an internal productivity practice at Qulture.Rocks. I also love his take on energy management and the “zone of genius,” which inspired me to make a lot of tweaks to my schedule. I am now making an effort to a) batch similar activities, like 1:1s, close together and b) ensure that no days have too many activities that drain my energy (meetings, talks) relative to activities that recharge it (writing, thinking).

Around the same energy management subject, which I find fascinating, here's a great article by Brad Porter, who's an Amazon executive, which ridiculously precisely [2] describes me (thanks to Fred, our coCTO, for the tip).

On work-life balance as a leader

Justin Kan, founder of Atrium and Twitch, former YC partner and Silicon Valley legend-in-the-making [3], shared, a couple of weeks ago, an interesting Google Doc [4] with his journey to become a happier human being. The doc, which can be found here, carried many tips I think could greatly benefit other founders and executives: meditation, gratitude, journaling and focusing on the journey x the outcome. I thought I’d also share a bit about what I’ve been doing on that front with you.

On meditation: I still don’t meditate as much as I’d like to. I learned meditation from reading a ton of books, but two “methods” have stuck with me through the years. The first, which I’ve been practicing for a long time, is Natural Stress Relief, which is kind of a generic version of Transcendental Meditation (TM is the method made famous by Ray Dalio, from Principles and Bridgewater. But TM is really sketchy: you have to learn it by paying a crazy U$ 1k course and supposedly getting personalized advice and a mantra. NSR, on the other hand, costs $ 25 bucks and gives you a generic mantra, that seems to work just fine. Im the past few months, I’ve been more intrigued by Vipassana, a method that’s teached in free, 10-day retreats where you can’t speak, look into other people’s eyes or call home and use the internet. That package prevented me from learning it, but reading Vipassana for Hackers, which is a paper published on Hacker News last year, gave me a better feel for what this type of meditation looked like. Spoiler: it has a lot to do with those body scans we do on Headspace and Yoga, and was called by the paper author a “systematic examination of the nervous system,” which certainly caught my attention. It has been an interesting variant and has worked well for me.

On journaling: for maybe a year now, I’ve been writing down “3 things I’ve learned” and “3 things I’m grateful for” in my to do list every week, when I sit down to plan the week ahead and clean it up. After reading Kan’s doc, I downloaded “Five Minute Journal,” a journaling app that helps me write a daily summary of things that went well and that I’m grateful for. Kan describes it as game changing for him, and, although I can’t say that much for my experience, it’s certainly worth the effort and helps me value what I have, which is an amazing life by all means!

Tweetstorms, coaching, mentoring, and Bill Campbell

With time becoming more scarce in my schedule, I've been increasingly writing Tweetstorms instead of blogposts. In my experience, they require maybe a third or less of the time required to write a blog post, but convey the intended message quite as well.

Why write in the first place, you may ask, when I could be doing other stuff? I think it's in order to a) relax and b) organize my thoughts about stuff I've been reflecting and reading about. Writing helps me learn.

This week, I wrote one about coaching, mentoring, and other solutions leaders tap into to get better. Here it is:

By the way, there's a new book by Eric Schmidt, former CEO and chairman of Google (and author of How Google Works) about Bill Campbell, “coach” to CEOs like Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt himself, and Ben Horowitz (founding partner of A16Z and author of The Hard Thing About Hard Things). The book will be released on April 16th and titled The Trillion Dollar Coach.

That’s it for today. I hope this helps you get 1% better 🙂

And please, give me feedback on what you liked, didn't like, and think I should change.



[1] I added you to this newsletter because I think you'd like to hear from me. In case you don't, just let me know and I'll take you off of it.

[2] I always hate the sound and feel of two consecutive adverbs. But found nothing that prohibits them in English.

[3] I feel like a Techcrunch journalist.

[4] What's up with sharing Google Docs docs? Is Google eating blogs and ebooks at once?