Month: January 2013

Startup Leaders: Watch the Mood and the ‘Tude

No one is naturally happy and smiling all the time. As a startup leader, the pressure will sometimes make you anxious, frustrated, or just burnt. When it happens, it’s usually obvious to your co-workers. And it’s okay.

Don’t try to be the perfect leader all the time. You’re human. Let yourself be in a crappy mood.

Employees can empathize with your low points. They see you battling stress while leading your company. But if you’re like this all the time, it raises red flags. And it should.

If you’re in a bad mood most of the time, you shouldn’t be leading a startup right now.

Many big company leaders seem to have permanent scowls on their faces, like they want everyone to know how hard and stressful it is to be a CEO. They can get away with that in a big company environment.

Startups are different. The offices are often cozy and employees see you a lot. Believe me, they’re watching. They need you to be accessible and engaged.

Employees take cues from you. Chronic negativity will drag them down.

Bad moods happen, but they should be the exception. Don’t get wrapped up in your stresses. Negativity is contagious, and a big part of your job is to foster enthusiasm and motivation. Use strategies to regain perspective. Then get back to being the leader your company needs.

The Visitor with a Blank Slate

Imagine for a minute that you woke up one morning and realized you were transported to a parallel dimension. It looks the same as your previous life and your memories contain the same events, but they feel different. You start to figure out why.

Recalling the good times makes you grin as always. But you feel no emotional attachment to any of the bad times. No lingering frustrations, resentments, or disappointments. But that’s not all.

Your career. That boss you hated? The promotion you didn’t get? Your startup that crashed and burned in spectacular fashion? None of it drags you down anymore. Actually you feel like you’re being propelled onward and upward.

In this parallel dimension, you’re a blank slate. You aren’t afraid of failing or what other people think. Suddenly the ideas start flowing and all you can think about is which one you’re going to build your next company around.

Since you’re a visitor in this new life, you don’t know how long you’re gonna be around. A year? A month? A week? Better get this party started.

Now stop imagining. Wouldn’t it be great to live in that parallel dimension? See where this is going?

Anyone can be a visitor with a blank slate. You just have put in the work to learn from negative experiences without being constrained by them. And we’re all visitors of course. Tomorrow could be our last day. No time to waste.

Onward and upward!

Your Business Model = Your Role in the Company

As a company founder and CEO, it may sound odd to hear that your company’s business model will determine your future role.  But it will.

If you’re one of the rare companies that can turn a net profit early on, it greatly increases the chances of you sticking around as CEO for a while.  On the other end of the spectrum, if your model focuses on building your user base now and worrying about monetization later, your dependence on investors will decrease the likelihood of you keeping that CEO title indefinitely.

Different founders have different agendas.  Some have little or no emotional attachment to their enterprise and only want to make a big chunk of cash from an acquisition.  Others want to build a truly great and influential company, even if that means they won’t be involved in day to day operations at some point.

Often times market forces will choose a viable business model for you.  But when you can choose one, be realistic that the more outside investment, the more your ownership will decrease.  And as your stake in the company dwindles with each funding round, chances are so will your role.

Impatience is a Virtue

When it comes to your goals and dreams, some people will tell you to be patient. “Don’t worry, it’ll happen.” “Your ship will come in.” “It’s meant to be.”

This is horrible advice. Horrible.

You have to make it happen. Swim out to meet your ship. It’s not meant to be unless you make it so, starting with HARD WORK.

In one of his most popular songs Beck says “Things are gonna change, I can feel it.” The song is called Loser.

To achieve your goals, impatience is definitely a virtue.