I’ve been gone a while. Not gone but in a different direction. As entrepreneurs it’s really easy to go in too many directions. Let me restate that. It’s easy to go in a wrong direction. That’s ok. That’s who we are. Sometimes it’s a big sign, sometimes it’s a subtle sign but we always get to the right answer of the right vs wrong direction. So what did I learn when I was going in that different direction?
- I saw first hand why many smart, product focused entrepreneurs with great industry insight don’t become successful. As Bill Gates said, “I built Windows but I could have never built Microsoft”. Paul Allen built a company of people, processes and product management. Most entrepreneur’s don’t have the skillset to build an effective organization. That’s ok. Everybody brings a certain value. However, it’s important to understand what you do well and find partnerships to fill in what you don’t.
- Similarly, as Steve Jobs said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Just because you may be the smartest guy in the room doesn’t mean you’re the most effective at getting the job done. Embrace & encourage other opinions… trust me you’ll learn something that will help you. It’s your company & your vision. Excecution is a cross functional team sport though.
- Don’t swim upstream. Whether it’s in a Fortune 500 or a 100 employee company you have office politics. It’s actually productive if leadership understands how to harness the positive energy in it. However, if you allow a few to hijack the company for personal gains… well, you’ll realize sooner or later their priority was never the company anyway.
- Respect your team. It’s so simple but your organization is as good as what your team thinks of you. It really comes down to that. Don’t believe me? Ask Travis Kalanick. Leadership starts with you.
So keep going in the direction your heart takes you. Your heart will also let you know where not to go