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Our Lending Library Principles, and overdelivering on an assignment

One of the first steps I took when I joined ff Venture Capital was to launch a lending library (the original social media). It’s a very cheap employee benefit and more important, a way to promote a culture of both learning and knowledge-sharing. I think every company would benefit by having a small lending library. I moved into many of my old textbooks/research materials from writing my book.

I asked our intern Franklin Bi to research technology tools to track books checked in/checked out. He did a little research, but we didn’t find any good tools. We also jointly decided that the overhead cost of setting up and managing the system wasn’t worth it. It’s much easier for the library to operate strictly according to the honor system.

I also asked Franklin to write up a one-page summary of the rules of the library, which we could post next to the books. 95% of people would have written up 5 bland bullets and moved on to the next project. Franklin, to his credit, did the assignment with style, wit, and creativity. I’ve attached below what we printed out and put next to our lending library.

When I was applying to business school, I asked my colleague at Bear Stearns, Michael Margolis (now of Maric Capital Fund L.P.) for some advice. He observed that successful people "do the mundane in a sublime way". Franklin’s execution of this project is a great example of that principle in action.

ff Venture Capital Lending Library Guidelines

Please borrow no more than one (1) item at once
"Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus." – Tony Robbins

Recommended borrowing period: two (2) weeks
"I would rather have a good plan today than a perfect plan two weeks from now." – General George S. Patton

Treat these books with regard for future readers
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." -Francis Bacon

Recommend and share books you like with others!
"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest." – Benjamin Franklin

By the way…
please feel free to contribute books from your own collection!

If you plan to retrieve your book(s) later, remember to write your name inside the cover.

If you would like to donate a book permanently, write "ff Venture Capital" inside the cover.

If you read this whole list of guidelines and
it was the most leisure reading you’ve done in the past week,
please borrow a book.

"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it." – P.J. O’Rourke

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/uberculture/2058870277/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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