We believe in freely sharing with clients and friends.  As a rule, we stay away from the Business Section of the airport bookstore and shun the self-help genre too.

DECK SCIENCE.  Sequoia Capital’s template presentation deck is perfect, in terms of content type and organization.  Study the science of deck creation here.  The language should be exact and clear and plain without being flat.  Graceful and a little interesting, and not stuffy.  But this is a production and an experience and we have to remember the art too.  For those with great content and lackluster visuals, look at how these masters of data visualization at Stamen construct compelling stories with dynamite infographics.  Ask “How would Edward Tufte construct this slide?”

LET’S DO THE NUMBERS.  For newbies, it’s best to go deep with “Financial Intelligence” and “The HBR Guide to Finance Basics.”  You will be ready for the Kai Ryssdal interview.

LIBRARY.  Here are seven books that clients find especially useful as they commercialize energy and climate change-related innovations:

  1.  Alex Wilmerding’s “Term Sheets & Valuations:  A Line-by-Line Look at the Intricacies of Term Sheets and Valuations
  2. Alexander Osterwalder’s “Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers
  3. Mariana Mazucatto’s “The Entrepreneurial State
  4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow:  The Psychology of Optimal Experience
  5. Al Gore’s “Our Choice
  6. Ury and Fisher’s “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
  7. Verlyn Klinkenborg’s “Several short sentences about writing

BUSINESS WRITING.  The seventh book recommendation (Klinkenborg’s piece on writing clearly) is important for entrepreneurs who need to effectively communicate with customers, investors and partners.  The Bay Area tech scene is “a desert of jargon and weak constructions, a land of linguistic barbarism.”  Read and re-read Verlyn Klinkenborg’s masterpiece.  Stop using cliches and meaningless phrases like “impactful” and “disruptive” and other nonsense.  “If you want the reader (investor, customer, partner) to feel your sincerity, your sentences have to enact sincerity–verbally, syntactically, even rhythmically.”  You must become deeply aware of how you sound.  As Klinkenborg writes, “You can’t revise or discard what you don’t consciously recognize.”

INTRODUCTIONS.  For all Founders and CEOs, one of the most important skills is effectively making and receiving e-mail introductions.  While Christian Thurston’s piece has more an IT than a Cleantech flavor, the principles he outlines are widely applicable, and are useful across geographies (from Silicon Valley to Boston to Europe to Asia).  Study them here and become more effective.

WHO’S TALKING?  It’s worthwhile to follow The Breakthrough Energy Coalition and The Energy Gang:

  1.  Bill Gates’ “Energy Innovation:  Why We Need It and How We Get It
  2. The Energy Gang Podcast from Greentech Media
  3. The Stanford Energy Innovations and Emerging Technology Certificate program provides useful background for a lot of cleantech subsectors.

THE LARGER CONVERSATION.  The key meeting places for sharing your story in-person are:

  1.  Cleantech Forum San Francisco (Cleantech Group)
  2. Cleantech Forum Europe (Cleantech Group)
  3. Greentech Media events (GTM)
  4. Future of Energy Summit (BNEF)
  5. Energy Innovation Summit (ARPA-E)
  6. CEM7

RESILIENCE.  Last, here’s some inspiration for when you start to doubt yourself.  Remember, you could be swimming in frigid water without a wetsuit, in the chop, in the dark, at the mercy of strong currents, being followed by Great White Sharks.  So channel your Inner Kim Chambers.