Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor (#331)

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“The main difference was that I was willing to outwork and outdo every competitor who walked in through that door.” Ann Miura-Ko

Ann Miura-Ko (@annimaniac) has been called “the most powerful woman in startups” by Forbes and is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford. The child of a rocket scientist at NASA, Ann is a Palo Alto native and has been steeped in technology startups from when she was a teenager. Prior to co-founding Floodgate, she worked at Charles River Ventures and McKinsey and Company. Some of Ann’s investments include Lyft, Ayasdi, Xamarin, Refinery29, JoyRun, TaskRabbit, and Modcloth.

Given the success of her investments she was on the 2017 Midas List of top 100 venture capitalists. Ann is known for her debate skills (she placed first in the National Tournament of Champions and second in the State of California in high school) and was part of a five-person team at Yale that competed in the Robocup Competition in Paris, France. She has a BSEE from Yale and a PhD from Stanford in math modeling of computer security. She lives with her husband, three kids, and one spoiled dog. Her interests are piano, robots, and gastronomy.

Enjoy!

#331: “Is That a World-Class Effort?”: The Story of Investor Ann Miura-Ko
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Want to hear my interview with Ann’s business partner? — Check out my interview with Mike Maples, Jr. from venture capital firm Floodgate, the man who taught me how to invest. Stream below or right-click here to download.


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Ann Miura-Ko:

Floodgate | Twitter | Instagram

SHOW NOTES

  • Ann was so shy as a child that her brother would have to introduce her at piano recitals. [05:35]
  • What Japanese phrase would Ann mutter at English speakers as a hostile kid growing up in Michigan? [08:21]
  • How did Ann manage to get a handle on her introversion and start opening up to people? [10:16]
  • When did Ann first speak on stage without an introduction from her brother? [13:20]
  • Why did Ann persist with speech and debate even after a rocky couple of years? [14:39]
  • Ann has always loved competition. [16:06]
  • To what dark lengths has Ann been willing to go for a slice of pizza? [16:41]
  • What catalyst turned Ann from a lousy debater into someone who won tournaments? [19:46]
  • What is the format of debate competition? [24:12]
  • What resources does Ann recommend for people who want to get better at debating and structuring arguments? [28:24]
  • Observations on what passes for modern debate — in politics and my family. [31:47]
  • Life is not a debate, and it’s not always about being right. So what does Ann feel is the most important lesson she learned during her debating years? [34:06]
  • A look at the differences between debate and negotiation in spite of their similar toolkits. [37:19]
  • Ann shares her rocket scientist father’s story of coming to America from Japan and one of his favorite phrases: “Is that a world-class effort?” [39:30]
  • How Ann made a world-class effort at a job making copies and filing, and what keeping her father’s words in mind taught her about ownership of circumstances no matter how seemingly insignificant. [43:54]
  • How giving a stranger a tour at Yale resulted in the opportunity for Ann to shadow a major company’s CEO. [46:36]
  • Ann’s first job that primed her for world-class photocopying and labeling. [53:15]
  • As an office supply connoisseur with many years of experience, what are Ann’s favorite notebooks and pens? [54:58]
  • What personal artifacts does Ann hold dear? [56:18]
  • Ann talks about teaching Mayfield Fellows at Stanford and what she loves about the program. [58:12]
  • What is the reading list for the intelligent growth in startups class Ann is teaching at Stanford now, and what’s in store for her students this quarter? [1:00:11]
  • How a potential investor might spot artificial inflation of value among startups. [1:06:03]
  • Why did Ann deviate from her initial plan to become a doctor? [1:07:20]
  • What thoughts surrounded Ann’s abandonment of the doctor track in spite of the preparation it had taken to get there, and what did she know about herself that her parents and test scores didn’t? [1:10:59]
  • How did venture capital and investing in startups enter the picture for Ann? [1:15:40]
  • “What is Steve Jobs doing in this house?” [1:16:20]
  • A job offer accepted over shared interests and an examination of the unique interview that led to it. [1:17:36]
  • Ann’s second day at CRV was 9/11. What did she observe and learn about shepherding companies and investors through a stagnant economy during her time there? [1:22:05]
  • The most expensive words in investing. [1:25:27]
  • First principles thinking and the toughest leadership decisions that Ann sees come up most commonly. [1:25:49]
  • Knowing the difference between a winning strategy versus a strategy not to lose. [1:28:45]
  • In what ways might hedging manifest as a defensive strategy? [1:30:05]
  • The importance of focusing on your own race, as demonstrated by Oprah and Dan Gable. [1:31:55]
  • Ann’s take on why you need a little bit of aggressiveness in order to have the win. [1:34:08]
  • How did Ann meet Mikes Maples, Jr.? [1:35:09]
  • Why Ann pursued a PhD in computer security, what kind of company she was planning to start, and how Mike persuaded her to work with him instead. [1:38:36]
  • What was Ann’s initial reaction to this proposition, and why was it such an unusual proposition at this time in Silicon Valley? [1:41:20]
  • Why Ann’s first year at Floodgate was so hectic — and what she considers “the most creative and probably productive” period of her life. [1:46:07]
  • What’s Ann’s real first name? [1:48:18]
  • What constitutes a struggle for Ann, and how has she coped with difficult times? [1:49:17]
  • What are Ann’s superpowers? [1:55:10]
  • What are thunder lizards, and why is Ann hunting them? [1:59:23]
  • Is the scientific method dead? How does Ann see the world changing as a result of artificial intelligence and machine learning? [2:01:10]
  • Philosophy thought exercises and real world applications. [2:04:03]
  • Societal problems that need to be solved and figuring out who’s best able to solve them. Do collective interests and self-interests have to be misaligned? [2:07:07]
  • What books has Ann gifted or reread most? [2:08:44]
  • What recent purchase of less than $100 had the most positive impact on Ann’s life? [2:11:00]
  • What would Ann’s billboard say? [2:12:27]
  • What do the Japanese characters for Ann’s first name mean? [2:13:25]
  • Where Ann can be found online, how Floodgate got its name, and parting thoughts. [2:14:30]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: August 2, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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22 comments on “Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor (#331)

  1. Hello Tim! Can you please provide some insights on tools to use for beginners in investing. Do you recommend anything particular like etrade or ameritrade for purchasing stocks?
    Thanks in advance!
    Mibin

    Like

  2. Hello Everyone,
    Hmm… Ann Miura-Ko. Amazing, Exemplary. I think her “BillBoard” to the world could also say “What did YOU do today?”
    Love you all.
    Bruce in China.

    Like

  3. Hey Tim,

    As an orthodox Jewish guy, I have been trying to stick to the four hour bodydiet.
    Believe it or not, there are a few steps in the diet that would actually be going against a few parts of our religious daily routine, but there are good workarounds.
    In the orthodox Jewish world, there are an extremely small amount of diet books, and I think making a book that is custom made for us, would not only be a major help, but would also draw lots of attention. Like I said, there aren’t really diet books out there, and I know that we are struggling with our health and weight all the time.
    I would be interested in connecting up to work on it, just letting you know that I am a nobody, and I’m sure there are better qualified, more talented people that can work on it in place of me.

    Like

  4. Hi Tim, my comment is in regard to 5bullet Friday and oregano oil. I don’t do Twitter.
    When taking essential oils orally you should always take them diluted in a capsule. Otherwise you irritate your delicate mucous membranes. The burn is not a good sign.
    Oregano is indeed a great oil. If you’re interested in essential oils research and safety look up Robert Tisserand. He’s an Oldtimer in this field. You might find something interesting.
    Greetings, Karin

    Like

    • I’m a huge believer in Oil of Oregano. I take it in capsules – no burn and just as effective. I combine it with grapefruit seed extract and take both at the first hint (scratchy throat, sniffles, etc.) of a cold or flu, and after flying. I haven’t had a cold or flu in at least 5 years.

      Like

  5. Awesome episode! Thank you Tim.

    Favorite quote: “urusaina!”

    Favorite lesson: Choosing a job is a question about “What job would you be willing to put in a world-class effort?” and not as much about if you are currently producing world-class results. It was very inspiring to hear about Ann’s winding road from pre-med, investing, PhD, and back to investing. Wished you would have dug a bit deeper about things she proactively decides to NOT put in a world-class effort in order to maintain balance in her life.

    Like

  6. What an awesome episode. I have been asking myself “is this world class?” for everything from cutting the grass to crossfit workouts. It is a serious motivator. Thank you Tim and Ann.

    Like

  7. Loved discussion of limitations of scientific method, enterprise software, applications of AI; pen & notebook rec, HBS case studies recs.. refreshing to hear a female voice in this industry. Career path story is inspiring. Genuine interview that rolls so smoothly especially in the second half.

    Like

  8. Dear Tim,
    I’m a Brazilian singer and would love to send a few songs. What is the best way to do that?
    I’ve been following you for a long time. Love everything you do!

    Like

  9. Hello Mr. Ferriss, a while back you recommended a CBD Oil in one of your 5-Bullet Friday emails. I have tried to find it on your website, but can’t. Could you re-post that? I’m looking for a quality oil.

    Thanks

    Like

  10. Awesome episode and inspiring lady. As a small business owner with a baby on the way, I totally needed to hear the part about how she kept it all together whilst completing her PHD. Thanks for the show as always Tim!

    Like

  11. Hello Tim.
    I couldn’t find any ways to communicate through 4hbtalk.com so I’m asking my question here. Hope you’d answer it 🙂
    I have started the slow-carb diet as you described in the book, it’s been 2 weeks. There is a product that looks like green pasta but it’s made of 100% split peas. I’ve been having it with some meat and 100% bio tomato paste and it tastes awesome. Just wanted to check if it’s OK to have it as veggies in some meals.
    Thanks for your time.
    Mahsa Maslahati

    Like

  12. I have listened to 80% of your podcasts and this one is far and away my favorite. I have a daughter who is a biomedical engineer and her life quote is “There will always be smarter and more talented people, however, never let someone work harder than you”. I will forward Ann’s quote, “Effort matters”

    Like

  13. Love her idea of taking an offensive, rather than a defensive, strategy…”we’re here to win it”…another excellent interview, Tim!

    Like

  14. Hi Tim.

    This conversation definitely went all over the place, but I guess this is a good thing as far as the quantity of information goes.

    Thinking about it … the quote you put at the beginning of each podcast post and the billboard question is probably the 80% most of us can remember when thinking about specific podcast episodes. However, for this one, I’d say the “world-class” part is the most memorable, as it was mentioned several time along the episode.

    ~Felix Dragoi

    Like

  15. I am a fan! Your material is such a great source of inspiration, tools and methods to make life richer, creative and intetional in many areas (diary, happy body, meditations x 2 etc.).

    – but… relationships.
    This topic is neglected in your podcasts (exept for brilliant ep. with E. Perel) and I would personally find it so interesting, I think the whole world would!
    Coming from here – how do you meet new people? I really struggle with that – I do sports, work full time, go on camps and retreats – but so few connections are worth pursuing. I have a group from earlier days but it’s so hard to make new friends in adult life. And find boyfriend (after a split up from 10 yrs of relationship)…
    Any hacks, hints or methods here?
    Do you know any material good for that? Podcasts, books? To apply Ray Dalio’s method – other people must have gone through that as well 🙂 Where to find guidance?

    You might find this interesting – transformational breath, horrible website though: [Moderator: link removed.]

    And have you heard anything about: [Moderator: link to book The Presence Process removed.]

    Would be soo interested in your insight!

    Probably you will never read that – anyway I send you loads of greetings from Warsaw, Poland!

    Like

  16. Ann’s comment about have a strategy of “winning” vs. “not losing” was on point. Working at a startup in a competitive space, you’re constantly keeping tabs on your competitors and trying to maintain parity with features your competitors release. My key takeaway here is be aggressive, make big bets on your vision, and stay on the offense.

    Like

  17. I really enjoy all of your podcasts and learn so much from each one. Loved how Ann spoke to the essential power of effort. Nice to hear from someone who makes it look easy because she is brilliant.

    Like