Difficult Is Good

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes. There is no single formula for determining what type of entrepeneur will succeed. But one of my favorite stories about entrepreneurs comes from Don Valentine, the founder of Sequoia, which is one of the best venture capital firms in the business.

When one of the younger partners in the firm started, Don took him aside and drew a four square quadrant. Along one axis, he put "easy to get along with" on one end and "hard to get along with" on the other end. One the other axis, he put "normal" on one end and "brilliant" on the other end.

He then said, "sometimes we make money with brilliant people who are easy to get along with, most often we make money with brilliant people who are hard to get along with, but we rarely make money with normal people who are easy to get along with." 

That has been my experience as well. Getting along with difficult entrepreneurs is one of the secrets to success in the venture capital business. It is also true that finding management teams that can get along with difficult entrepreneurs is critical to succeeding in venture investing. 

The "brilliant entrepreneur" can do a lot for a company. They can come up with the initial idea. They can create the vision and market position. They can get the initial product built. They can set the values and mission. But they cannot do it all by themselves. So they will need a team of people around them to execute the mission, achieve the vision, and do the hard work of building the business. 

Venture capitalists often find themselves in the middle of this stuff. They sit on the boards and sometimes control the boards. They are often asked to choose between the difficult brilliant founder and the easier to get along with "operating management." In a perfect situation, the boards will not be forced to make this choice. There are tools and techniques that can be used to help everyone get along.

I've mentioned before on this blog that coaches are one way to address this issue. I have seen a number of difficult situations where coaches made a huge difference. 

Recruiting is also an important way to deal with this situation. There are some people who have an easier time getting along with difficult people. If you can find them and get them into key positions in startups, you will be better off.

The reality of startup investing is that the greatest entrepreneurs are almost always challenging in some way or another. It is never easy to work with them. But they can and do make great things happen and it is often worth every aggravation to be invited along for the ride, whether you are an investor or a management team member.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Fernando Gutierrez

    Brilliant people are often difficult. But difficult people are not necessarily brilliant. It’s important not to mix up when judging people!

    1. ShanaC

      SO true, but why are brilliant people difficult?

      1. vruz

        Because they know things which aren’t self-evident to the rest of the people.

        1. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd


      2. inadarei

        Because creative people are strong individualists and that by definition makes them relatively more difficult.

      3. Tereza

        because generally speaking they don’t give a shit about their impact on other people. it’s all about them.i say this as someone who’s related to a lot of brilliant pain-in-the-ass people.

        1. fredwilson

          holiday get togethers must be fun

          1. Tereza

            yeah when my husband stepped on the scene he’d get headacheswe’re on our own now, so our holidays are quiet, in fact boring. we just try to pull in other stray puppies like usthere are a couple that are still living, and for them vis-a-vis holidays, the bigger question is whether or not they’ll show up.you have to not count on it, to keep your sanity (and so the kids don’t get bummed out).

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. uno

            What do you mean by “succeed”?do you mean those that make tons of money or are able to build large business empires?

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


        3. RichardF

          I think you are right Tereza and I think that also holds for some very successful people who are not so brilliant.

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Being brilliant doesn’t necessarily make someone emotionally mature.I’ve seen too many brilliant people who have not been held accountable for their actions because people are too much in awe of them to confront them. Or, they benefit from the person’s brilliance in some way and don’t want to rock the boat. Therefore, the brilliant person is never forced — or invited — to grow up.That’s a disservice.

        1. john5th

          True, but it’s not all about emotions. It’s more about communication skills. Consider at the high end how aspies are good at technology and how bad at communication.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I wasn’t thinking so much about emotions, per se. Probably more emotional capacity and development which involves things like the ability to get outside oneself, to consider other perspectives, to be aware of how one’s behavior affects others — and to care, and awareness of internal motivations, etc.My 15 year old son can out-communicate most adults which makes him think he’s really mature (and he fools a lot of adults into believing this too). I happen to know better. Great kid, though.Having said that — yeah, I agree with you on the importance of how communication skills factor in.

          2. JLM

            Maturity, with young men in particular, is actually a fleeting phenomenon.The second you introduce darkness, girls or beer — worse when taken together — maturity flees and they revert to the decision making of that little beastie who used to crap in his pants.Only Moms cannot be fooled. Dads? Batting about 0.500 generally.



        1. Donna Brewington White

          I get this…and this is one of the reasons I tend to get along well with brilliant people — even the difficult ones (and one of the reasons I love working with entrepreneurs and have many creative types as friends). They challenge and energize me, and I can help them translate — if they will let me.I understand that when a person is operating at a certain level, they are going to miss some things that may seem obvious to others and, of course, vice versa. They sometimes need others to act as social interpreters to help them function in the “normal world” or need to be supported in other ways.I think the problem comes in when someone’s brilliance creates a halo effect or puts them in positions of responsibility or influence outside their arena of brilliance — i.e., brilliant product developer put in charge of running a company — not always the best idea!One of the reasons that I love teams is that it allows people to function in their area(s) of brilliance without each person having to be brilliant at everything. Plus, it provides a way for the “smart but not necessarily brilliant” to maximize their contribution.

    2. uno

      1. I’d say there are more “brilliant” people that do not start a business then do.2. I’d say that most sucessfull business owners are in no way “brilliant”. Common charateristics would be more like “hard worker” “focused” “enjoy what they do” ..3. I do not what a “difficult” person means? do you mean aholes? egomaniacs? confidence? Even if you simply own a Subway Sandwich Franchise you need to be “difficult” sometimes as an owner to ensure the business runs well.

      1. fredwilson

        this is now your fourth comment on a “pointless” postseems odd that you would take so much time on something that is pointless

      2. zvozin

        You sound like there’s a start-up inside wanting to get out real bad, but afraid it’ll be laughed off stage if it does.

  2. Robert Hacker

    I have only three data points and all involve brilliant and easy to deal with, but I suspect this type produces larger companies with larger investor returns. Easier to deal with leads to better communicators, lower cost/investment to motivate staff and better collaboration/teamwork.An analysis of your investment history and returns based on the matrix would be an interesting followup post.

  3. NS47

    Founders being visionaries, I believe their core DNA is leadership. If one aspires to be a great leader, he/she has to take the difficult decisions and it’s not always easy or popular. Time and again we see this happen in great companies (Steve Jobs is a good example).I have to quote Machiavelli’s take on leadership here – It’s better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      But you can be both loved and revered — and I’d argue that the latter produces the same results as engendering fear — without the demoralizing aspects.



        1. Donna Brewington White

          Jobs is an anomaly.

      2. NS47

        I agree, but this rarely happens in an imperfect world. The usual progression for great leaders is from fear to respect to love.

  4. abhic

    Really refreshing admission from a VC, not surprising that its from you Fred.I do believe that these ‘difficult’ entrepreneurs aren’t as comfortable being compartmentalized as ‘difficult’ as well. These folks hardly rest and work on self-improvement either as a requirement or as a result of introspection to be able to do bigger and better things.Things change, people change, these people tend to change faster. That’s the only way the good ones stay relevant.

  5. Sebastian Wain

    It’s important to differentiate between difficult people, capricious people stubborn people.May be a subject for a future post on founders psychology.

    1. fredwilson


    2. John Rorick

      The crowd on this blog has likely already seen this, but inc mag did a recent article on entrepreneur psychology. Was better than some of the usually puff pieces done on the topic: http://www.inc.com/magazine

  6. Moschops

    So the lesson here is that brilliant people make more money for the company? Well, hold the front page.

    1. fredwilson

      that wasn’t really the pointthe point was getting along with them is hard but worthwhile

      1. nakisnakis

        Would love your take on whether the framework could be applied to investors, and whether you would recommend to an entrepreneur to secure difficult and brilliant investors because it may be “hard but worthwhile.”

      2. Michael Weiksner

        I was a little confused by the post too. The ‘normal / brilliant’ axis does not seem to add much. If “normal but easy” is bad, isn’t “normal but hard” even more toxic? Please let me know if I am missing something.Also, is ‘hard to get along’ ever a valuable trait? I tend to think that it is almost always a cost that may be outweighed by brilliance.

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  7. sigmaalgebra

    Uh, apparently Don omitted discussing the square with normal people difficult to get along with! :-)Again: If anything “normal” led to a lot of business success, then such success would be normal. Tilt! The economic pie is not big enough for large slices to be “normal”. So, “normal” can’t be a way to business success. So Don saw that he should avoid the two normal squares.As a corollary, for any very good business direction, initially nearly all the normal people will laugh. So, early, loud laughter is nearly a necessary condition for success. Sadly it is not nearly a sufficient condition.Being a person easy to get along with yet able to understand people difficult to get along with requires understanding and not just rejecting people who are both different and difficult and is difficult and requires a bright person with especially good insight into people.Difficult to get along with? With all those people laughing at you, expect something else? Or, borrowing from an old joke, anyone who remains normal in the middle of such raging nonsense simply doesn’t understand the situation. Can’t expect good success from people who don’t understand the situation!My experience is that bright people able to do well with nearly everyone do so by seeing’The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life’,e.g., Erving Goffman, as essentially just stage acting and being quite good at it. In addition, it helps never to say what are really thinking, in general not to say much at all, and otherwise just borrow from ‘My Fair Lady’ and talk about just two subjects, “the weather and everybody’s health”. Can also borrow from that mature master of pleasing people, Thumper: “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything at all.”. Such techniques can elicit pejorative characterizations such as ‘manipulative’!These acting techniques can lead to problems: Working with a person so dedicated to manipulative acting can lead to frustration as one begins to conclude that there is nothing substantial or genuine so that all the work was essentially wasted on a silly lie.And worse is possible: For people so easy to get along with there can be concerns about their “Winning with honest trifles in order to deceive in deepest consequence” (loosely quoted from Shakespeare).More generally, it’s risky to trust someone when you can be sure they are not telling you what they are really thinking.Real business success is from something less than 1% of the population. Not even Garrison Keillor could put more than 1% of the people in 1% of the population!That 1% knows that they are not like the other 99% and eventually gets tired of trying to be like that 99% instead of themselves, gives up on trying to please the 99%, and starts to be seen by the 99% as difficult to get along with.Uh, the CEO of Intel wrote about how impossible it is to put more than half the people above the average. Sorry: Many people make 100 and one person makes 1. Done. Sorry ’bout that.But eventually the 1%, with their understanding, starts to understand the 99%. Since the 99% is not homogeneous, have to understand in small fractions individually.Really, much of the ‘difficulty’ is from frustration from lack of understanding. Once nearly all the 99% are understood well enough, the frustration and difficulty can go down. Still the situation is something like a good violinist playing on a good normal violin instead of a good Strad: The listeners may not hear the difference, but there is no doubt in the mind of the violinist.Still I could understand that maybe Steve Jobs could be, although I don’t know that he is, impatient with some Apple Board Members who voted for some of the Apple leadership between the two Jobs periods.There is another old one: When you’ve hired Michelangelo to paint the ceiling, don’t also hire some house painters to give him ‘suggestions’. Uh, not even ones on the Board of Directors.

    1. Sebastian Wain

      Do you have a reference from the CEO of Intel quote?Thanks.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        You just made a mistake! :-)!You actually don’t want me to give a reference! :-)!I tried to be nice and omit the name, but now you are forcing me to be explicit, in particular, to mention the guy’s name. Shame on you!Heck, Fred may know the guy so that you are forcing me to use Fred’s blog to embarrass the guy!Well, it was a long time ago, and my main disk partition has something over 22 GB of files. Still, I found the details quickly — boy do I like using the file system directory tree as a taxonomic hierarchy!So, here we go:The reference is:Judith H. Dobrzynski,”Technology Pros Discuss What Comes After the Fall”,’The New York Times’,July 29, 2001then and still athttp://www.nytimes.com/2001…with”Craig R. Barrett, the chief executive of Intel”and”BARRETT — Go back to any kind of independent international test of kids graduating from high school in the United States. They’re destroyed, on average, by the time they get to the 12th grade in terms of math and science capability. We are systematically taking young kids who at fourth grade do pretty well on an international basis, by the 12th grade do horribly. So there’s an infrastructure issue.”The root issue, probably, is we do not do a good job teaching and getting kids interested in math and science. You go through the statistics in terms of qualified teachers in that area, for math and science, and especially in the inner-city area, you only have a probably slightly less than 50 percent chance of getting a math teacher who’s taken a math course.”and”BARRETT — I’ve never understood how 90 percent of the companies could do better than average.”Right, Barrett, by the time I got “to the 12th grade in terms of math and science capability” I was “destroyed”. I know; I know; you were talking about “on average”, but my K-12 teachers all thoroughly agreed that I was just an ‘average’ guy!So, I didn’t like that one. Wasted a lot of my time? Yes. Destroyed my ability? Heck no.Craig, brush up a little on your high school math: Given triangle ABC, by construction find point E on side AB and point D on side BC so that the lengths AE = ED = EC. Give yourself a little time for this one. Sure, give it to students in Norway, Finland, Singapore, and China. Go for it!For a little more, take a list of countries and for each compare high school math and science knowledge of (A) students in that country and (B) students in the US and descendants of people in that country. I.e., ‘control on country of origin’. Now the differences that remain may be due mostly to differences in the schools in the other country and the US which is what you were talking about. After you so control on country of origin you may not have much left to talk about.Then for more, list the countries where the Abel Prizes and Fields Medals come from.So, Barrett was saying how bad the math teaching is and then totally puts both feet in his mouth up to his knees. At least for a CEO he had a lot of athletic flexibility!So, onSunday, July 29th, 2001,I wrote him and pointed out:”We have 9 companies make $1 each and one company make $0.00. Then the average is $9/10 = $0.90 and 90% of the companies are doing better than the average.”Uh, as bad as math in K-12 is, we need better advice than Barrett’s on how to improve it.

  8. secretarycleary

    Any suggestions on finding a good coach?

    1. fredwilson

      two in NYC that I recommend are Jerry Colonna and Marc Maltzi think it is a good idea to get a local coach

      1. Eric Brooke

        I would highly recommend Marc. But I should declare an interest he is an advisor to my startup!

  9. Tom Labus

    There’s a fine line between being difficult for difficult’s sake and having a strong view on how things should be done and definition of product. I won’t want to encourage entrepreneurs to adapt a “difficult persona” just to appeal to potential investors.

    1. fredwilson

      Good counterpoint

    2. dchu220

      Very true. The successful entrepreneurs that I know are extremely demanding and unforgiving about standards, but they are also great at selling their vision and at the end of the day their employees have loved them because they feel like they accomplished something worthwhile.

    3. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd


  10. Drsheldoncooper

    Good thing I’m a pain in the butt.

  11. Per von Zelowitz

    Entrepreneurship and venture capital are a people business. Not necessarily a nice or easy people business.

  12. Alex Leverington

    Don’t tell the difficult brilliant entrepreneurs this!

  13. AnaRC

    Often is a matter of trust and communication. The entrepreneur is too busy to communicate his vision or even his plan. The VC is rushing into making things happen. I like the idea of getting a coach. But consider building a trust check-up and systematic communication tools that will enable productive collaboration. Both parties need to trust one another. At the end of the day, both must win.

    1. fredwilson

      Trust is so critical

      1. AnaRC

        Yup! BTW – falling in love with your MBA Mondays here! learning tons but still too shy to leave my comment

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Don’t be shy. Nice people, here. One of our most prolific (and respected) commenters made a comment very similar to this a year or so ago.

  14. Harry DeMott

    No real comment here: just that the first mention of Don Valentine here – where there is a link in the first paragraph, it reads DAN Valentine not DON.Maybe this all foots well with your comment in the Chris Dixon interview you did where you say that returns go up as the distance between the VC and the founder increases. Perhaps it is easier to get along with a brilliant founder if they are 2500 miles away – no matter how difficult they are – because your interactions with them are not going to be of the day to day nature.

  15. Merijn Terheggen

    To communicate a brilliant vision or idea, it frequently takes social skills equally as large as the size of the idea. To connect a ‘leap forward’ to other people’s frame of reference without running into a lot of resistance, takes considerable social skills. Typically, entrepreneurs start-off with ideas bigger than their capacity to communicate these. As they garner experience and the years pass by, some of them actually learn to connect their ideas to the mindset of many. Previous success creates a certain level of credibility that makes VC’s bet on entrepreneurs, even if they only partially can connect to the entrepreneurs’ idea. Fred observes that VC’s that can help accomodate closing the gap between brilliance/idea and execution need to understand both sides of the story. I’ve seen companies failing unnecessary over and over because of the disconnect between entrepreneur vision and financial stakeholders in the business. If the entrepreneur is not in charge of communicating the real ideas, all involved become insecure and afraid and many will start to try to take control of the direction things move in. If this is not the direction envisioned by the entrepreneur, it’s usually the beginning of the end of things. A good investor is first and foremost a great bridge.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, that’s what i was trying to say

    2. uno

      You could also simply call the “keeping focused” – nothing brilliant about it.I would argue it is more common in the VC world to get entrepreneurs that have exceptional communication skills and are able to convience VCs that an average idea is a “brilliant vision”There are often no “brilliant vision” nor “ideas” – For example, Edison was not even the first to invent the light buld, he stole the idea and spent a ton of money marketing the idea that he invented it (look it up).

      1. Marketers of Experts

        Amen brother. Let’s have some reality testing of the cult of the start-up/self-employed. Reality, as always, is far more mundane, boring and fraught with failure.Ignore the myths promoted by the “Social Network” — “Money for nothing, and girls for free.”

      2. zvozin

        Careful, we’re treading where better men have trodden before. “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources” (c) Albert Einstein :)))

  16. leigh

    Sometimes people mistake “difficult” with disruptive. If you want innovation – new ways of thinking – you are going to be uncomfortable. While out of your comfort zone – or being disagreed with – or being challenged may be difficult – it is also often the secret of being great.

    1. JenC

      So true. One can be labeled “difficult” if in an environment that doesn’t have the same standards or working with people who think status quo is enough. Sometimes I think the passion and fearlessness to achieve certain goals can easily be misconstrued as “difficult”.

  17. RichardF

    I think there are too many factors and interactions going on to just sum someone up as difficult.Most entrepreneurs are stubborn and single minded. That can make them “difficult” to deal with if you want to try and steer them away from their vision. They are also the type of people who do not like asking for help.In my experience in both computer science and biotech the type of people attracted to programming and scientific careers are generally more introverted. I’ve found that when you first speak to people in both of these industries communication can be initially harder. If you can find a common ground life is much easier. For me the easiest way to do that is to show genuine interest in what they do (I’m a curious person so I find that reasonably easy).The mix of entrepreneur and VC is a difficult one. Generally the best VC’s are the ones that been there and done it themselves or have been in the game a long time. Having a board with a high number of VC’s who have no experience of running a company, building a product or managing people can be a recipe for disaster.The worst type is the arrogant, MBA educated from a “good school” VC, who think they are brilliant. Now that’s a difficult person!

    1. fredwilson

      “Generally the best VC’s are the ones that been there and done it themselves or have been in the game a long time”i totally agree

      1. JLM

        While I generally agree with your sentiment, I would gently point out that the discipline to be a good investor is a different discipline — in some ways a more complicated discipline — than being an operator. This from someone who has been primarily an operator.A good investor has been exposed to a much broader mix of industries and operating disciplines and business cycles than someone who has operated a few companies. Do not understate the value of that broad exposure.The accomplished VC knows the money game and that is not an operating discipline. Folks have a tendency to understate the importance of the financial road map.The President of the US does not have to have served in the military to be a damned good Commander in Chief though nobody would suggest it is hurtful.

  18. RF

    Fred, this post ties in well with a core theme from your previous post entitled “CEO Transitions”: http://www.avc.com/a_vc/201…. I say this because in that post you drew the distinction between the value of the founder / entrepreneur vs. the value of an operating executive — highlighting how both are important. Start-ups are most likely to be successful when the brilliant, but difficult entrepreneurs with “the idea” can work well with the operating executives who can “get it done”. I would say this is true of any company, whether it’s a start-up or larger company — however, the management risk associated with start-ups is obviously much higher.On a separate note, I second your recommendation of Marc Maltz. Our company has used him and found him to be very helpful on helping develop difficult personalities as managers.

  19. Nikita Tovstoles

    Seems like “the quadrant” can be quite general and apply not only to “entrepreneur”, but to “VC”, “engineer”, “salesperson”, etc – in each category there are “brilliant but difficult” folks. In my perhaps modest experience, the trick is figuring out whether the juice is worth the squeeze – whether brilliance will outweigh the “poison pill” factor they may inject into a startup team, particularly if they aren’t willing/ready to be coached.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Katie

      Show me a good salesperson who is difficult to get along with.

  20. Mark Sugarman

    Fred, small correction, the Founder of Sequoia is Don Valentine, not Dan Valentine. Thanks for sharing your insight. I enjoyed the post.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. typo fixed. thanks!

  21. jerry hum

    I think it’s important to look at why certain entrepeneurs are difficult. Are they difficult because of some sort of personality flaw or are they difficult as a result of the fire they have for what they are doing. That fire can result in difficulty for many reasons. Maybe they are too immersed in it to care about how they come across to others. Maybe they are frustrated they can’t fully instill the same fire into everyone else.I suspect that when injecting outside management to cope with the entrepeneur’s difficulty, the outside management is less difficult often because they don’t have the same fire. Fire can be a difficult thing.

  22. William Mougayar

    Well said. You need a bit of tension to push the limits and go beyond the normal boundaries. I would add that being stubborn is also a good trait of an entrepreneur, although that could be classified in the “difficult” category.Going with the flow doesn’t allow you to create new streams.George Bernard Shaw said this, and you could replace “reasonable” by “difficult” and it would apply:”Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.”

  23. brmore

    Seems I know a few people … mostly managers … who fit into that last quadrant, normal & hard to get along with. Universally they think they belong … ahem .. elsewhere. I try to stay away.

  24. Adrian Scott

    Great insight — neat to see this posted. I think the development of the ‘coach’ piece of the solution is quite positive. It also seems there is a wider range of founder-integration relationship possibilities being attempted than in years past.

  25. David Miller

    I can relate to this post. Two quick comments.First, I’m someone who’s hard to get along with and who benefited greatly from recruiting “normal” operating people on the team to help me execute the vision. And second, coaching works. We hired a coach and my performance improved dramatically over time. If Phil Mickelson and ALL the best golfers in the world have coaches to improve their performance, every senior leader who cares about being better should have a coach, too.In the interest of self-improvement, I’d personally like to learn more about the specific “tools and techniques” you’re referring to.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      David — I find encouragement from what you’ve shared. There are the difficult people who are clueless about their impact or they just don’t care (and actually it’s the former that are potentially more dangerous) and those who are self-aware — especially admirable are those who are both self-aware and care about their impact on others. I’d be willing to bet that you’ve got some people on your team who’d follow you to the moon.Your last question tells what you are made of. I wish more companies were run by people like you.P.S. Just went over to your blog and realize that I have read and even tweeted your posts on occasion — good stuff. I wish you great success with your newest venture.

  26. honam

    In some ways, I think it’s becoming conventional wisdom that “difficult people” make the best entrepreneurs. It should not excuse certain types of behavior. Rather than “difficult”, I’d rather characterize them as independent thinkers and doers. They certainly don’t follow the crowd. They are just themselves and will follow their own internal compass. They are true to themselves. They have a mission to accomplish and they won’t like it if you get in their way. They don’t suffer fools easily. They can be quirky or eccentric. Maybe these qualities make them difficult. I actually love such characteristics in entrepreneurs. If I give entrepreneurs advice, I don’t expect them to always follow it. It is just an input they should consider before they make a decision. I get very worried if an entrepreneur follows up on every lead and pays too much attention to “advice” from investors and board members. I expect them to make up their own minds and do their own thing. 

    1. knowledgenotebook

      “They certainly don’t follow the crowd. They are just themselves and will follow their own internal compass. They are true to themselves. They have a mission to accomplish and they won’t like it if you get in their way. They don’t suffer fools easily. They can be quirky or eccentric. Maybe these qualities make them difficult. I actually love such characteristics in entrepreneurs.”Do I know you?Do I know you?I asked the same question twice, probably once in few years…

    2. JLM

      I think that there is a leadership and management style which one can develop when one has a bit of experience and it is COLLABORATIVE.I was a QB once upon a time. I could throw the deep ball and it was a thing of beauty when someone caught. It was magic and I got the cheerleader to boot. Over the years, I outgrew the game. My arm died and I could no longer throw the deep ball.I became a Coach and I helped and mentored QBs because I knew what it was like to be in the huddle and call “the” play and throw it deep. I couldn’t do it myself any more but I knew what that special drug felt like.I wet nursed them when they failed. I patted their fannies when they were hot. I pulled them from the game when they lost their edge.I bought a team and hired a coach and a QB. I made them work together and every so often, just every so often, I got them together and talked through the issues.The QB was amazed I had ever really played the game. But when he heard that tremble in my voice, he knew I had done it once upon a time.The Coach knew I knew how damn hard it was to get the QB’s attention and to get him to perform. That you coaxed a performance out of him.Me, I got to keep all the money we made, because I had learned how to make the entire damn team — players and coaches — COLLABORATE together. Not to do their jobs for them but to get them to do their jobs with each other.When you win the championship, the QB thinks he won it. The Coach thinks he coached them to it. And, you, you get to keep all the fucking money.Collaboration is where success takes root.

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Well written! A good CEO is able to keep command while encouraging the best in his team, inspiring them to think of innovation and/or a better method than present.

  27. hungrygardener

    Wondering if the same analysis applies to VCs? Further, I’ve always found the stereotype of the brilliant founder unhelpful in number of ways. Should be minimum level of civility required of all participants. More importantly, lot of so called brilliant founders either find the “difficult” adjective required or helpful when trying to get their way. It becomes a ‘crutch’ that if left standing sucks the life and fun out of what to begin with is hard work. I am at point where absolutely refuse to work with people I don’t like. Should of done year’s earlier. Eliminates all the bullshit time and effort wasted on discussing, coddling and coping with so-called brilliant founders or partners and allows focus on important steps to success rather then “personality.”

  28. ErikSchwartz

    You need a bit of a chip on your shoulder to reject the conventional wisdom and go another way. If nothing in the world pisses you off then you’re not going to see the need to improve it.

    1. Tereza

      Yeah well i do totally agree with you on that when. when I started considering partnership with my partner, I asked him what’s the chip on his shoulder. And i told him mine. They are aligned chips.Basically we’ve both made other people lots of money but not for ourselves and we’re mad as hell about it.Hunger and anger when channeled uniformly is a good thing. (i hope)

  29. James Mitchell

    One should separate out having exceptionally high standards and being a pain in the ass.As CEO of a company that will radically change how legal referrals are done, I am looking for superstars to join my team. My offer is, “I have exceptionally high standards for myself, which I strive to meet every day. Sometimes I slip, but not often. I except the same from you. If you have exceptionally high standards for yourself, the odds are we will get along just fine. If you do not, you will probably find working with me to be your biggest nightmare. In that case, the only good news is that our working together will be very short and thus your agony will be short.”I do the mistake of giving too many people a chance. At the same time, I fire early in the process. People who perform at a high level usually love working with me. A typical comment is, “I am so tired of playing on teams where the other are not really trying. I like playing on a team that might go to the Super Bowl.”Being a pain in the ass is a different matter. Those who do not perform don’t see the difference between being a pain in the ass and having high standards, since like the creatures in Flatland who cannot imagine a three dimensional world, they cannot imagine performing at a high level, so both of these are the same to them. But there is a difference between having very high standards (a good thing) and being a pain in the ass (a bad thing).The same thing applies in teaching. At Harvard, I had some professors who had very very high standards. One person (a physicist who apparently was the co-father of the hydrogen bomb; I was studying defense policy and arms control) seemed to expect me to have the same level of math and physics knowledge that he did. He was very fair and was not a jerk, he just thought I should not turn in something that was not suitable for publication in a top journal. I got along with him just fine.An shameless plug – I am looking for employees and affiliate partners. If you share my philosophy and want to make a ton of money, look at http://www.counselconnectnetwork.com and then call or write me.

    1. vruz

      Being a pain in the ass is a subjective thing.A CEO can be a pain in the ass when she knows an employee can do better and a little more effort in the right direction will unleash great results.Suddenly, what only the CEO could see becomes self-evident to the rest.Sometimes it’s not just about high standards, but wide standards. And some guys have both wide and high standards.For many people without previous experience, it may be hard to tell between those two.

      1. JLM

        The CEO should not be anybody’s buddy or friend. He should be cordial and professional.The CEO is the leader who takes the organization to a level of performance they could not otherwise reach and that requires a vision, a plan, a report card as well as talent and resources.The CEO coaxes a continuingly better performance from each individual and the team through coaching and mentoring.Teams improve their performance through iterative improvement not by great leaps forward.

        1. vruz

          there’s a few basics which are only commonsense.but then every CEO has her own style.

          1. JLM

            Ahhh, that uncommon quality — common sense. I worship at the altar of common sense.

          2. vruz

            that’s very true indeed. I’ll be curious, who are your favourite CEOs ever?

    2. JLM

      I love your rant and I applaud your spice, don’t change it in any way but consider the following.In over 30 years in business with literally thousands of employees and more than a few trips to the pay window, I have fired two employees for cause, shed a tear at only two resignations and had two administrative assistants. People have followed me from company to company with no prodding on my part.You have to be able to develop a hiring discipline which provides you an effective screening process resulting in your getting the right people the first time. If you cannot do this, then YOUR standards are really not that high. It is painstaking to do right.It is way too costly to see if folks are going to “work out” by OJT experimentation. You cannot afford to be wrong and to experience unnecessary churn. You have to be able to attract the right talent. Not just test drive everything and hope something will fit.I don’t hire superstars.I hire talent, athletes and I train them to do their jobs at a level which provides the necessary ingredients for the TEAM to be the superstar.Today, I am hiring military academy grads, combat veterans with MBAs. Last week I had a key employee — a regional manager — suffer a debilitating heart attack. This person will be undergoing a triple bypass and is likely done working full time.I had a West Point MBA as the second in command and by night fall, he was in charge and making plans to deal with whatever he did not know about running that region. He is so calm under fire that from time to time I want to check his pulse.I had hired a guy who was used to dealing with succession issues under actual enemy fire. He has the demonstrated talent and experience. He performed as I had expected he would. That made me feel good about my decision making.The succession plan was in place, everybody knew what was to be done and in less than 12 hours there was a complete change of command. I suspect we will be a better company in that region in 6 months.The TEAM is the superstar but only if you have picked the right players and trained them accordingly.BTW, my job is to make them all rich. Because if I make them rich, I will do OK.

    3. Kenyan

      Would it be a pain in the ass/ difficult person comment to point out the spelling error in your 2nd paragraph about your own very high standards? (I think you mean “expect”….not “except” 🙂

      1. fredwilson

        i love comments pointing out typosi see it as crowdsourced copy editing

        1. Kenyan

          I’m very old school – that will be $20 for the edit 🙂

          1. fredwilson

            free media = free copy editing

          2. Kenyan

            Fair enough.Enjoying the blog immensely out here in deepest darkest. Please keep up the good work.

  30. Neil Braithwaite

    “Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes.”But how about the flip-side of this?VC’s come in all shapes and sizes.Remember the old razor commercial where the customer tells the polite drug store attendant about all the problems he’s having with his current razor and the polite attendant tells him, “maybe it’s not your razor, maybe it’s your face.”The polite attendant goes on to explain that all faces are not the same, but in this case, lucky for the customer, there was a company that had a razor for all the different faces. Problem solved!Unfortunately, people can’t swap out personality traits like they can razors.And that’s what I like about Fred; he’s honest enough to put it all out there for the world to see.And bold enough to let us know that USV will do its best to accommodate a face in need.

    1. fredwilson

      VCs can be really hard to deal withi know of one for sure 🙂

  31. ShanaC

    After being called difficult most of my life, I am now really conerned with two things: Good exectutions, and being able to understand other people so that the word is a less difficult place. How do your bridge that, if you are always considered the difficult one?

  32. LIAD

    I find the same with developers.The average-to-good ones are agreeable, dependable and reliable. Easy to get on with and work with. They’ll get the job done – no dramas but no heroics.The superstars however, the ones who show flairs of brilliance, the ones who ooze ability and skill, the ones who single handedly can code exquisite delights without breaking a sweat, the diamonds in the rough – are incredibly hard to work with. In my experience they are somewhat immature, not overly reliable or punctual, find it hard to work in team settings and have an aversion to authority.For every 20/30 developers I work with there’s probably 1 who has this natural ability. They can need to be handled with kid gloves and a very light touch. Their excellence is only matched by their potential for causing headaches – but if you’re in it to win it, they are the guys you need to hunt out, recruit, inspire – and to one degree or another try and tame.

    1. fredwilson

      yup. and it is hard to hang onto them. they often do amazing work for a year or two and then blow out

    2. Jack Dempsey

      Long time reader, seldom commenter here.This reminds me of the Project Triangle a bit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wik…You can find talent/amazing solution, social skills, and effectiveness. Choose two.There are times when I make a choice to be more effective and truly deliver an amazing solution. In doing this I often have to sacrifice a bit on the social side of things. “No, this isn’t up for discussion. Sorry, I can’t sit here and explain/debate it with you”.Other times you can have the talent and social aspect, but you WILL get slowed down and suffer as a result.I think the best of us try to figure out not only the best tool for the job, but the best balance of the three.@fred,Definitely. Often after a year or two the interesting problems are gone and people are looking for the next challenge. I have a hunch Jack Dorsey has a bit of this. I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see Square do well and have him turn it over earlier rather than later.

    3. Katie

      ” somewhat immature, not overly reliable or punctual, find it hard to work in team settings and have an aversion to authority.” This has absolutely been my experience as well with developers (at multiple startups and in multiple countries!). I posit that the brilliant are “difficult” for one of two reasons: one, they are driven to pursue a vision that others don’t share. Two, brilliance and social intelligence can be inversely proportional. This latter phenomenon I encounter frequently in the best developers, and I often wonder if it’s not something like Asperger’s syndrome (or whatever they’re calling it now).

  33. Aaron Klein

    I’m sure that’s true for VCs but life is way too short for me to work with jerks.There are too many great, brilliant people out there. Supply and demand. 🙂

    1. Tereza

      I’m with you Aaron. I have a fully-enforced no-asshole policy. Life is short. Few people are that good.

      1. fredwilson

        difficult does not mean asshole

        1. Tereza

          ok, fair enough.

        2. PhilipSugar

          Interesting though that most really big tech companies that have original founders as CEO’s are run by CEO’s that are reported to be assholes (Amazon, Oracle, Apple). Whether they are difficult or are assholes is hard for me to tell because I haven’t worked for any of them…..but the reputation and stories of yelling, cursing, berating, etc would point to asshole.Its a question I’ve thought about because is it cause or effect? Does it take being an asshole to be really successful or is it easy to become an asshole once you’re that successful?Kind of like when people point to bad VC behavior. I think its hard when you have people literally begging you for money every day to not have that go to your head.

          1. Tereza

            Yeah I guess i’ve seen some successful ones (and worked early on with a few along their ascents) where the success really did go to their heads and for sure there was collateral damage. all kinds of crazy abusive behavior going on — serious couch-time stuff — but because they were hitting (or wildly exceeding) their numbers everybody looked the other way or they just didn’t see it. similar to what donna was describing, no one calling them out on their behavior because of fear. so they never learn it and in fact it becomes reinforced behavior which they’re rewarded for.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            What you are describing reminds me of the book “Alpha Male Syndrome”.I’ve just seen too many tragic cases. Every once in a while (and more than most people seem to know), the company itself becomes the fatality resulting from this type of leadership — but more often the only sign is the trail of demoralized, disillusioned, derailed ex-employees.

  34. Tereza

    OH MAN fred you mean I’ve been all nice-nice to people in this community for nothing?Enough!As the person who always was called on to work with ‘the difficult person’, I’m having the time of my life finally getting to be the difficult person.I have a large pent-up demand for unleashing my inner psycho bitch.Thanks for letting me know I can!:-)

    1. Tereza

      awwww….no one liked this? I thought it was one of my funniest ever!I guess a no-like score is the online equivalent of laughing nervously and changing the subject.:-(boo hoo {sad Tereza}

  35. Bobby

    Great post Fred – thank you.The question is whether the successful entrepreneurs who are brilliant and difficult to deal with would benefit or suffer from becoming easier to do with. Is there something about their brilliance or effectiveness that they lose if they become “easier to deal with”? Is it always good (for business) for brilliant entrepreneurs to work on becoming easier to get along with? Is there a piece of their harshness that we want to preserve?In my limited experience it seems the harshness is something to preserve, but is generally a resilient attribute in those with the best chemistry of brilliance + personality to be successful entrepreneurs.

    1. fredwilson

      i think they would

  36. Arkadiy Amelin

    What about Angels and VCs, Fred? Can you introduce a suitable classification system of them?

    1. fredwilson

      probably similar to the one i described for entrepreneurs

  37. awaldstein

    It takes dogged self-belief to create something really new, to power through the endless difficulties to create momentum out of inertia and hear ‘yes’ when everyone is telling you ‘no’.It’s self belief that drives genius to action. Neither is easy; both are admirable.

  38. Kelley Boyd @msksboyd

    “Because they know things which aren’t self-evident to the rest of the people. @Vruz” For some reason the like button is not working for me here…I like.I personally have a difficult time with myopic people. They can only see things one way. So when talking about product, their vision is spot on; however unable to understand the larger concerns. If they can’t see it, they can’t support it. I think it is mostly a lack of experience…but sometimes it may be the insular worlds that most people come from. When would they ever have seen anything different, or the other side?This is when I think parenting REALLY helps because that is the one relationship you can’t walk out on. You have to figure/work it out.

  39. Dhanasekar

    Interesting article.You are a VC, so obviously you think in ‘monetary’ terms.If the focus is on the milestone of that big exit or making boatload of money, then lead a hell’s life work with difficult people, as opposed to enjoying the journey of entrepreneurship with people who are pleasant to work with even if that big exit is a bit longer.Life is too short to lead a hell’s life !.Again, the term ‘difficult’ people is subjective.

    1. fredwilson

      difficult doesn’t mean jerkwe won’t work with jerks for any amount of money

  40. knowledgenotebook

    Talking about of Sequoia, I have had positive personal experience with a Sequoia partner and another top-tiered VC as well.With regard to difficult founder, it shouldn’t be a real problem, brilliant people are brilliant enough to see others’ weakness and have the stomach to put it up with and can still work together to get things done.I enjoy this blog, thanks.

  41. vruz

    I’ve just made this graph, I think it explains more of what happens in each of the quadrants that Fred is talking about.How the personality of company founders impacts the resulting type of companyhttp://twitpic.com/3zk876Ideas? Suggestions? Comments?(I wish Disqus allowed for inline pictures, if only thumbnails)

    1. fredwilson

      that’s pretty good vruz

  42. Donna Brewington White

    But it seems that there might come a time when that brilliant but difficult entrepreneur is no longer the right person to continue running the company. Does “difficult” scale?(Yes, there are notable exceptions — and even with those exceptions, you have to wonder what might have happened if they hadn’t lost so many great team members over the years due to their demoralizing leadership — except that we’d have fewer tech companies since many of those who left — in a huff or otherwise — went on to found new ventures.)

  43. JLM

    What an interesting topic and dialog as usual.At different times, I worked for a General as an aide de camp, a Fortune 10 oil company CEO/Chmn as a flunky assistant and a pure entrepreneur starting up and running a new business venture on a pretty damn big scale.I learned about autocratic leadership and management and fundamental research from the General.I learned about balance sheet leadership and inertia and financial incentives from the CEO/Chmn.I learned about making a deal and relating to anyone from the entrepreneur.I also learned that we let people become whatever we let them become. Nobody is “difficult” unless we allow them to become difficult.Here are some things I know work and I did not discover them, I learned them from the guys above.You must invest a huge amount of time to get to know the “right” people in the right way. Introductions are everything.You don’t just need to know where they went to school — you need to know how they paid for it, whether their parents went to college, why they picked that school, did they change their major, if they would send their children to that school and whether they contribute to that school today. This is only one of about 25 things that you have to research about anyone who is going to hold your fate in their hands. You will stumble onto something that will explain things later in the relationship.You have to know what drives a man. What is “his” currency and why? I will work for you like a dog if I can spend a month skiing in SBS and a month swimming in Wrightsville Beach. I will also give you 8 hours of work each day I am there, so it will really cost you nothing.You have to relate to him. If you arrive at a Board meeting in a suit or with designer garb, plop down and turn on your laptop, start texting on your BB and jabbering about fine wine, then you may have a bit of trouble with the guy sitting there in the Rockports, khakis and who loves to ride his bike to work.Be smart about relationships — spend time researching, spend time with them and meet them in the middle as it relates to lifestyle.This is just plain common sense.Never argue in public and never ask a question at a meeting that you do not have an inkling of the answer. This may require you to spend some quality time with the guy.The quality of most relationships is directly proportional to the amount of time you spend with folks often on things that are not business related.You have to know “difficult” people on a level which is much, much deeper than the “normal” guy — who unfortunately does not really exist.

    1. William Mougayar

      Well said. Sounds like a Dale Carnegie type of advice a la “How to win friends and influence people”.

      1. JLM

        Yes, DC how the CIA would have done it in the old days.



  45. Startupguy

    I’m an Entrepreneur that many would call difficult but mostly after they screw something up or give me their opinion without having any sort of insight into the space that I’m in.The true way to know how difficult a person is, just ask his customers. As a sales oriented CEO my customers rely on me for many things outside of the scope of our client/provider relationship.Many investors, former associates and even my wife have said I’m difficult but when it comes down to it I just expect others to respect the work that I put into building a company. Most difficult people are difficult because those who perceive them as such don’t give them the credit they are due.

  46. Sachin

    I don’t have any experience about brilliant entrepreneurs but I have some brilliant friends (they are not entrepreneurs) who have made great money and they are easy to get along with…

  47. uno

    I would never work for nor invest in a “difficult brilliant entreprenuer” because that is 3 red flags for failure right there!Very wishy washy and pointless post. Absurd to equate “difficult” with “entrepreneur”. Plus the term “brilliant entrepreneur” makes no sense you mean someone with a PHd from Phoenix on-line?I know a guy that is not difficult nor brilliant but runs 20 carpet cleaning vans and goes skiing 2 weeks about per month, hardly works, makes a small fortune.NYC has no shortage of trust fund kids that want to start “Interent” companies becuase it is the cool thng to do. Many are complete aholes but have enough cash to burn through 1-20 failed startups before they turn 40, often they build a viable business, so what? who would want to work with these idiots?There are lots of complete a-hole, egomaniacs that start companies because they cannot work inside a normal organiation. The typically get “successful” fast up to like 10 employees and stay that way for ever. They turn over employees multple times each year because well…they are “difficult”The guy that runs PlentyOfFish.com is worth a billion dollars and is not a difficult person at all nor would he be considered brilliant. He is a very partical and NORMAL. Runs the web site with only a few employees.The example are as many as there are business people.

    1. fredwilson

      it was not a pointless post because you took the time to leave a longishcomment. it must have provoked something in you that made you do thatthe point of the post (to me anyway) is that it is possible to work withdifficult people, but you need help, like coaches and team members who aregood at that sort of thing

    2. JLM

      Without jumping into the middle of discussion, I applaud your observation that there are hugely successful businesses out there which are not totally technology producers — they can be technology users.I think the employment situation in the US is gong to ultimately be solved by inspiring that 20 carpet cleaning van guy to expand to 25 carpet cleaning vans.Not that I would ever want to impinge upon his skiing. You have to have some damn standards after all.Well played!

    3. Leonid S. Knyshov

      Spend some time reading Markus Frind’s blog. Take a look especially at how he handled the recent security fiasco. http://plentyoffish.wordpre…He is brilliant when it comes to database algorithms. You can’t argue otherwise – he can talk your ear off about Microsoft SQL server optimization.He is difficult when it comes to communicating with users.He is an entrepreneur by your own admission.

  48. Guest

    To communicate with and understand someone you need to think the same way or know how the other thinks, otherwise you can’t understand each other and you can’t communicate so it gets difficult to get along.Sometimes someone is brilliant because “how” he/she thinks is different and far from how others think. Not only no body can understand him but he can’t understand others too.(By the way results show if a different way of thinking is brilliant or stupid and Darwin tells who to survive.)

  49. Jeff Pundyk

    trick is figuring out when brilliant is worth the trouble…not always. The world is filled with brilliant people who can’t get their vision executed because they can’t communicate or they can’t manage or they can’t lead a team. Brilliant ideas by themselves aren’t worth very much. Still, difficult people can be great inspirational leaders for the very qualities that make them difficult. They don’t have to be “easy” to get along with but they do have to be willing, i.e. to believe in the value of others to make their vision come alive.

  50. Chuck Watson

    I am one of those difficult entrepreneurs. When I was younger, I was just difficult. Now that I am older I realize the key is not to lose the drive that makes you difficult. Only adjust your methods and know where your weaknesses exist.Then you can be difficult where where is a benefit (product development/vision) and delegate tasks where being difficult does not pay off (marketing/sales/human resources).Being coach-able is the key and knowing when to trust advice being offered.Chuck Watsonwww.EnergyChaser.com

  51. Marketers of Experts

    Sure, unless they have a brain impairment/mental illness — hint: look at family history.Research is that 40% of self-employed have learning disability. Much of the impulsive/compulsive behavior is similar to addictive brain disorders and ADD — more, more, more and there is never enough.Glamorizing brain impairments is a sure path to individual, family and social network tragedy.Let’s also be honest the vast percentage of entrepreneurs fail with sad consequences to all involved. Lack of diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders is likely cause.Don’t let brain disorders bully the suffer or anyone else.

  52. Dave W Baldwin

    Don’t know if this is off point… if you are a founder, the job comes down to producing what was promised along with the profit to the investors. As you move along, there are many events/developments taking place that you have to keep an eye on along with the progress from your own team.The difficult founder is pushing to keep within timeframes, yet knows what else is going on and is able to assess the realities of the current project. He/she still comes off as stern, mean and bull headed, that’s their job. If you tell that person to relax and discuss what they are worried about, you probably can learn a lot.If you realize the only way they can be is bull headed and have very narrow focus, dump ’em.

  53. Dave W Baldwin

    Now off subject (just being difficult)… the debt is going to equal the entire economy moving to 105% in 2015.We have to provide true growth across the board in this country or we are moving into truly dangerous territory (we’ll be at 102% this September, first time since WWII).At the same time, it looks like he wants to do the increase taxes on $200k+ once again, meaning this will be his main trumpet blast supposedly to handle the debt issue.

  54. Eric Brooke

    I am not a religious man, but there is a good story in the bible about two people one who build their foundations for a house one in sand and the other in rock.. the lesson I learned from this if you take shortcuts you may get a short term solution but not something that will last.All relationships with people for me are the same.. if you take time to challenge first impressions and challenge your own first judgements, you are likely to have a better sense of a person and maybe better relationship. For me this post was a good reminder to me that just because something is difficult does not mean it is not worthwhile… whether it be the brilliant developer, a head of their time academic or even me as the leader of a tech startup

  55. Dennis Salvatier

    What a great analogy. Definitely something to consider and keep in mind. Great post.

  56. Volnado

    Funny reading this after telling my girlfriend the reason we will probably keep fighting is that I am a very difficult person … good to know I am not alone and that VCs know this going in

  57. ms. brandon brown

    Thanks, Fred! You’ve changed my paradigm toward my teenager. Based on your theory, he is destined to succeed off the charts! I will apply these points to my parental approach and family dynamics.

  58. ms. brandon brown

    Thanks, Fred. You’ve altered my paradigm toward my teen. (According to this theory, he is destined for off the chart success) These points can be applied to parenting and family dynamic management, as well as business environments.

  59. John Heinrich

    What Don says is absolutely true. As a coach to 31 small companies in Solutions Forum, we frequently have to civilize the owners. And, they’re not always happy with the group environment in which we talk over business issues on a confidential basis. Some of my clients, generally smaller ones, just prefer a one-on-one coaching environment, but as they get to about six or seven employees, they become more receptive to a group coaching environment.John HeinrichPresidentThe Solutions Forum [email protected]

  60. Dave Kellogg

    Great post, Fred. I’d add that when VC replace edgy entrepreneurs with seasoned corporate executives they are almost certainly moving left (i.e., towards “easy to get along with”) on one of your axes because “getting along” is a key success ingredient in most large organizations.And I’m with you in betting that at a startup brilliant and difficult trumps either brilliant and easy or most certainly normal and easy.

  61. April Olsen

    totally agree. I once read an article where a man said that he was not employable because he was an entrepreneur. I find myself in that same boat all the time. I make people angry all the time, I even have to pick and choose my friends, they often don’t understand my insanity. The ones that understand appreciate my brilliance and madness (which makes us so difficult). It is worth keeping them around, when you know the idea and vision, when problems arise, the creativity perks up and the true entrepreneur will save the idea and vision in the end. Get rid of the entrepreneur, and the original success could go away or fade into the menial.

  62. MicroSourcing

    Though once in a blue moon you come across an entrepreneur who’s both brilliant and easy to get along with. Brilliance is no excuse for a difficult attitude.

  63. susequinn

    I think being Brilliant and Easy to Get Along With is best, because it takes a charismatic team player type to recruit the very best talent. I find it’s easy to get the world’s most talented team when you are fun to work with, generous, kind, exciting and have a brilliant concept (and they can execute).

  64. Moschops

    Only for some goals. Some goals simply require brilliance to have any chance of success.