#8 OKRs & Combat Sports

I’m Ivan Landabaso, VC at JME.vc. I also love surfing and combat sports. Welcome to Startup Riders, your bi-weekly startup caffeine ☕.


  • 📅 What’s the plan? John Doerr’s OKRs for startups.

  • 🧠 Taming the mind: BJJ tactics for dealing with startup pressure.

  • 💵 Recent Deals: Jeff, Bit2Me and more!

  • 💭Thinking or Reading: MIT’s communication formula.

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📅 What’s the plan? - OKRs

My ex-org @Facebook started using OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) about 2 years into my time there. We had been relying on traditional “Goals” and “Planning” up until that point, which had a number of (important) drawbacks.

Long story short, adopting OKRs was pretty transformative as it helped us:

  1. Plan faster

  2. Increase clarity & accountability

  3. Increase alignment

I think John Doerr’s framework could potentially be very powerful for a startup.

What is the OKR System

The OKR System — “[is] a collaborative goal-setting protocol. [The OKR system] is the polar opposite of the conventional management by objectives (MBO) systems, which tend to be top down, hierarchical, annual, and linked to compensation. Contributors are most engaged when they can actually see how their work contributes to the company’s success. Quarter to quarter, day to day, they look for tangible measures of their achievement. Extrinsic rewards — the year-end bonus check — merely validate what they already know. OKRs speak to something more powerful, the intrinsic value of the work itself”


Objectives are the WHAT (we’re trying to achieve).

  • Objectives are significant, concrete, action oriented, and (ideally) inspirational.

  • They are typically longer lived.

  • They’re bold.

  • When properly designed and deployed, they’re a vaccine against fuzzy thinking — and fuzzy execution.

Key Results

Key results are the HOW (we’re going to achieve it).

  • The key results are aggressive, but always measurable, time-bound, and limited in number.

  • They’re aggressive but realistic.

  • They’re measurable and verifiable. It’s not a key result unless it has a number.

Yeah sure… but show me an example

Fine…but how do I implement this?

🧠 Taming The Mind

I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu blue belt - which means:

  1. I’m still sh*t at BJJ

  2. I get crushed / choked / [insert humiliation] by upper belts on a daily basis.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a self-defence martial art and combat sport based on grappling and submission holds. It focuses on the skill of taking an opponent to the ground, controlling one’s opponent, gaining a dominant position and using a number of techniques to force them into submission via joint locks or chokeholds.

Having a blue belt also means having an army of white belts - competing for a chance to prove themselves - trying to take my head off.

Why is this relevant for a startup you ask?

Something I’m learning in BJJ is how to deal with pressure (physical & psychological).

Learn to tame your mind, and you will be (more) in control under pressure (i.e. pitches, sales meetings, all-hands etc.).

Mind-Taming Tactics

  • Exercise —This is personally, by far, the most powerful and simplest way. The mind has a tendency to turn excess energy against you. Read David Goggin’s book “Can’t Hurt Me” for more on this topic. If you don’t like exercise, do it anyway — start with the basics: put your running shoes next to your bed before going to sleep, and start running the next morning without giving yourself enough time to think it through.

  • Train yourself to observe the mind — do not identify yourself with it. There are many books on this topic, but in a nutshell, the above is really all there is to it. You can train yourself through a basic 10 minute meditation per day, by doing Wim Hof’s breathing techniques, by doing Yoga, etc. etc. Find what works for you — as long as you are training yourself to look at your thoughts in 3rd person, and detach yourself from it.

  • Breathe —You can short-circuit your sympathetic nervous system through your breath. Your breath is an anchor, meaning you can use it to alter your physiology, and in turn your mind & lizard brain. The way this works is very well documented in a book called “The Buddha’s Brain” by Dr. Rick Hanson. When you slow down your breathing, you slow down your heart rate, which tells your lizard brain to take it easy — which in turn tells your mind to chill out.

  • Sleep — Be in bed for 9 hours every day. If you want to learn more about how important this is, and it is massive, read “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker.

  • Eat / Drink Healthy — Garbage in, garbage out. If you don’t fuel the machine right, your mind starts jumping around. A great book on how to eat healthy (its not rocket science) = The End of Dieting (Joel Fuhrman).

  • Optimize for fun — We’re only around for a little while. The humans you care about and the things you love doing have to be prioritized. Watch this Ted Talk on the longest study performed on human happiness — it’s all about the quality of your close personal relationships, prioritize them.

  • Cold showers — this actually works. Its a great training tool, and it’s a hard thing, which makes you a better human (again, go read Goggin’s book, you’ll thank me).

  • Go into nature — On average, we’re massively over-stimulated. Information overload is a double-edged sword. Make sure you and your mind take some time off. Nature is a great way of doing so.

And of course, I hope to see you all on the mats one day!

💵 Recent Deals

💭Thinking or Reading

MIT on how to communicate

I came across this lecture, worth a listen.

A simple(r) path to wealth - JL Collins

I find myself recommending this book and lecture time and time again to friends who are looking to dip their toes into putting their money to work. Watch it or read it.

Time in the market > trying to time the market. Act accordingly - buy low commission Vanguard-or-equivalent investment vehicles recurrently, set and forget.

Why? Example: Fidelity investments did a piece of research when they became curious as to what group of investors, in their funds, did best. The winners?

  1. Dead people.

  2. People who forgot they owned the fund.

How humans spend their time

Great infographic - what segment is underserved / offers more unsolved problems to build a startup around?

If you find this interesting, please consider sharing with your friends. I’d also love to get your thoughts and feedback on Twitter. Until the next one! 😃

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