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An Ode to the Founders
I have deep and abiding respect for founders. This will surprise nobody given how I have chosen to spend my working years. Really I just admire initiative in all of its forms — and that goes double when folks put themselves out there to create something from nothing. So here’s to you, crazy ones…
Founders in Books and TV Shows
Here are four founder-related stories that I’ve recently enjoyed:
WeCrashed. Yes, it includes the wild stuff we heard about at WeWork. It also shows how the founders changed a giant industry through personal force of will.
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Love, loss and video game greatness that all starts in a college dorm room.
Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama. Bob Odenkirk’s memoir. It turns out that every movie and TV show is basically a new start-up.
Daisy Jones and the Six. What’s a rock group if not the ultimate start-up? Heck, we’re always calling engineers and marketers “rockstars…”
Be Kind to Yourself
You may not be the best manager, engineer, salesperson or designer in your company. In fact, once your start-up becomes successful, you will almost certainly *not* be the best at any functional role in the company. Please remember that you are something different and more important: the company’s founder, who got everyone else this far… and who undoubtedly cares 10x more about the details than anyone else. So when you or others start to question your hard skills, please be kind to yourself and try to keep doing your founder job that nobody else can pull off.
If You Care About Doing the Work
I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom from Bob Odenkirk:
"How do you make a break happen for yourself?" asked a young woman of me on a break at Second City in 2019.
I really wanted to give her an answer. A yoga pose she could do every morning. A pill she could take. A crack she could smoke.
"Do a lot of different things to increase your chances." Hmm, no, then you might spread yourself too thin.
"Do one thing constantly until you are the best at it." Obviously not the lesson of my career. I settled on the truth.
"You can't. You can't make your own break." She was not happy to hear it.
"Sorry kid. But if you care about doing the work, if it rewards you just to do it, you will probably be alright."