VC/Unpacked #4: Deliberate Practice & Deep Work

This series curates great content that folks interested in entrepreneurism and venture capital should explore. Some are from my own must list; others have been suggested by our community.

Have a recommendation? Tell us about it.

Hi AVG Community,

I believe anyone can improve materially in almost any endeavor. This includes becoming a venture capital investor. But it comes with intense study, reps, and learning from the best — all complemented by some losses and other stressors that sharpen your focus. You want to be better at chess, you don’t just play. You take lessons, study the master, practice your middle game, put in your time, and learn from your losses.

Working to be a better VC, every day.

- Mike Collins

Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

This seminal book by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool is about how to get better at everything. The authors offer insightful research and theory, backed by many examples, to demonstrate the point that life-changing work is possible by grinding it out every day to becoming better. Yes, it requires a lot of hours (years, really), but smart hours are the key.


Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Everyone at Alumni Ventures Group knows I’m big on deep work. The idea is to “concentrate intently on cognitively demanding tasks without distractions.” For me, that time is from 5–8AM every day. Doing something worthwhile takes focused time and effort, but there’s considerable value creation arbitrage here. Read Cal Newport’s book — or if you want the quick version, Newport explains his thoughts in this podcast.


The Queen’s Gambit

Face it, most entrepreneurs and VCs consider themselves slightly misunderstood geniuses. This good-looking, well-acted Netflix series celebrates a troubled but determined chess-playing genius. It’s the fictional story (although Gary Kasparov consulted and the show’s games were constructed by him) of a female chess player who stumbles and grinds to the top during the ’50s and ’60s. It’s inspirational and just plain entertaining.


Alumni Ventures Group provides smart, simple venture portfolios with community to accredited individuals. PitchBook listed AVG as the third most active VC firm in the U.S. and the seventh most active in the world (2019).

Originally published at on November 12, 2020.