The 10 Most Important Lessons I’ve Learned as a Founder-CEO (and VC)

the-10-most-important-lessons-i’ve-learned-as-a-founder-ceo-(and-vc)

Q: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in your career?

My list:

  1. Slow down big decisions, speed up the rest. I’m not the first to say this, but boy it’s correct.  You may think you only have 24 hours, or 5 days, or a week to make a huge decision.  But it’s OK to slow those 1 or 2 big decisions a year down.  Just speed the rest up.  That VC will still want to fund you.  That BigCo will still want to buy you.  That partnership can still happen, even if you need another week.
  2. Wait and find a truly great co-founder. I’ve done so, so much better when I had a great co-founder. But when I’ve had one that wasn’t as committed … that led to mediocre outcomes. At best. And a lot of pain. No matter how smart they were.  A bit more here.
  3. Make your first customers wildly successful. They teach you how to make the next 10, 50, 100 wildly successful, too. Your first customers are your future. You will get more just like them.  A bit more here.
  4. Power laws are real. If your startup is worth $20m today, it can be worth $100m in a few years, and maybe, $1000m a few years after that. Value, brands and revenue compound.  More here.
  5. Don’t worry as much about the competition. They can maim you, but they rarely can kill you. Especially if you are growing at even a half-decent rate.  A deeper dive here.
  6. Go all-in. If you don’t commit 100%, you’ll never maximize the success.
  7. A great team is a family. Few things are more special than having a great team at a start-up. Family members will leave and go on to other great things. But you’ll be a family for decades.
  8. A great journey makes you relevant. If you sell your startup, you’ll see that no matter how much money you make, you start to feel … less relevant afterwards. Not everyone, but most of us as founders. A great journey gives you purposes and relevance.
  9. 90% transparency is about right. You can’t share every single issue, every drama. That’s too much. But about 90% transparency is good. The team can take it, and will appreciate it. Don’t share everything. But hide less.
  10. Time is the ally of the committed. If you are willing to work not just harder, but for longer than the rest — you probably won’t fail. You won’t let the tough times, that terrible year, kill you. You’ll push on. And you’ll stay in the game long enough for those power laws to finally kick in.  A bit more here.

A related video deep dive here:

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