The Management Team - Guest Post By Jerry Colonna

This is the final post of the MBA Mondays series on The Management Team. It is my favorite MBA Mondays series so far. The guest posts in particular have been fantastic.

Back when I started this series, I outlined it and decided that I would ask Jerry Colonna to wrap it up for us. Jerry, when he was my co-founder at Flatiron, taught me the people side of the venture capital business. And now as CEO coach to a number of USV portfolio CEOs (and many others), he is teaching the people side of the startup business to some of the best entrepreneurs we work with. He is a people person through and through and management is all about people.

So with that forward, here is Jerry's guest post. It is fantastic and he even threw in a section for Grimlock ūüôā


The Crucible of Leadership


Work is difficulty and drama, a high-stakes game in which our identity, our self-esteem, and our ability to provide are mixed inside us in volatile, sometimes explosive ways…Work is where we can make ourselves; work is where we can break ourselves. David Whyte, Crossing The Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

Fred started this series inspired by Bijan who urged folks to ‚Äúinvest in your team, help them become better managers.‚ÄĚ The topic, said Fred with his flair for understatement, ‚Äúis very important.‚ÄĚ Over the weeks, different people looked at the process of building the capacity to actually lead‚ÄĒputting the team in place, scaling people, everyone argued may be the hardest part of building the company.

To me, the hardest part of scaling people is learning to lead your self.

The Crucible

They often come to me, their coach, because they don’t have any place else to put the feelings. They’ll sit on my couch, or pace while they talk on the phone, pausing as we grapple with issue after issue after issue. The common denominator is always people. When I first take on a client I warn that I don’t have a magic wand. Nevertheless their wish for some elixir to mend their relationships is heart-breakingly visceral.

When they start, they often think the hardest part is figuring out what to do but they‚Äôre inevitably knocked on their ass by the task of leading.  And when they make mistakes–when they fail to lead–their identity, self-esteem, and ability to provide‚ÄĒas David Whyte notes–sometimes explode.

We all too often break ourselves in the work of becoming a CEO, a manager, a leader.

The only answer, the only balm against the inevitable existential pain of becoming the leader we were born to be is to see the lessons implicit in the practice of becoming.

‚ÄúIn the course of studying how geeks and geezers became leaders,‚ÄĚ writes Warren Bennis in the introduction to his classic, On Becoming a Leader, ‚Äú‚ĶI discovered that their leadership always emerged after some rite of passage, often a stressful one. We call the experience that produces leaders a crucible…the crucible is an essential element of the process of becoming a leader…Some magic takes place in the crucible of leadership‚ĶThe individual brings certain attributes into the crucible and emerges with new, improved leadership skills. Whatever is thrown at them, leaders emerge from their crucibles stronger and unbroken.‚ÄĚ

The magic, the alchemy, occurs when what we do mixes with who we are and is cooked by the heat of what we believe.

Take as an example a client I worked with intensely over the last few weeks. She and a co-founder have been killing each other (okay, I have a flair for the overstatement‚Ķstill, they have both been getting sick with a host of ailments‚ÄĒmigraines and stomach problems). The arguments had gotten so bad that neither could stand to be in the same room with the other. Even I was exasperated. During one late night call, I asked my client to forget, for a moment, whether her co-founder was right or wrong. ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt care who‚Äôs right,‚ÄĚ I said with my voice rising. ‚ÄúThe only thing we have to focus on is what are you supposed to be learning from this.‚ÄĚ

There was a long silence. I thought, ‚ÄúOkay. You‚Äôve really pushed her too far. You and your woo-woo ‚Äėlessons in the pain‚Äô crap.‚ÄĚ But then: alchemy. She opened up. ‚ÄúThis is really shameful to admit,‚ÄĚ she began, ‚Äúbut I know I‚Äôm a pain in the ass because I have to be right, all the time. I know it‚Äôs wrong but I can‚Äôt stop myself.‚ÄĚ

And with that we had something to work with. I pressed her: Given this tendency, what do you really believe? What values do you hold? What kind of company do you want to build? And what kind of adult do you want to be?

Over the next few weeks, on guard for her need to be right, we carefully went to work changing her approach to the co-founder. For her, the crucible moment came in facing her shame, acknowledging who she really has been and as a result she got to choose how she wanted to manage and who she wanted to be.

We forge our truest identity by facing our fears, our prejudices, our passions, and the source of our aggression.

The Buddhists teach that for the steadfast warrior to emerge, we’ve got to break open our hearts to what is.

Eat Me If You Wish

‚ÄúOne day,‚ÄĚ begins a story re-told by Aura Glaser in the latest issue of Tricycle Magazine, ‚Äú[the Buddhist saint] Milarepa left his cave to gather firewood, and when he returned he found that his cave had been taken over by demons. There were demons everywhere! His first thought upon seeing them was, ‚ÄėI have got to get rid of them!‚Äô He lunges toward them, chasing after them, trying forcefully to get them out of his cave. But the demons are completely unfazed. In fact, the more he chases them, the more comfortable and settled-in they seem to be. Realizing that his efforts to run them out have failed miserably, Milarepa opts for a new approach and decides to teach them the dharma.

‚ÄúIf chasing them out won‚Äôt work, then maybe hearing the teachings will change their minds and get them to go. So he takes his seat and begins… After a while he looks around and realizes all the demons are still there‚ĶAt this point Milarepa lets out a deep breath of surrender, knowing now that these demons will not be manipulated into leaving and that maybe he has something to learn from them. He looks deeply into the eyes of each demon and bows, saying, ‚ÄėIt looks like we‚Äôre going to be here together. I open myself to whatever you have to teach me.‚Äô

‚ÄúIn that moment all the demons but one disappear. One huge and especially fierce demon, with flaring nostrils and dripping fangs, is still there. So Milarepa lets go even further. Stepping over to the largest demon, he offers himself completely, holding nothing back. ‚ÄėEat me if you wish.‚Äô He places his head in the demon‚Äôs mouth, and at that moment the largest demon bows low and dissolves into space.‚ÄĚ

Surrendering to the demons that torment your organization does not mean abdicating your responsibilities to manage. You are still responsible for dealing with the reality of what is. In some cases, the demon is the wrong vision for the company. In others, it might be that you‚Äôve hired the wrong people. In still others, it might be your own failings‚ÄĒlike an inability to admit that you‚Äôre wrong.

But in all cases, allowing your self to be eaten by the demon that remains‚ÄĒacknowledging the ways you contribute to the problem without descending into pointless self-flagellation–adds to the heat beneath the crucible. Without heat, there is no alchemy.

On Becoming Your Self

When I was a young Padawan, I remember lamenting to my therapist about my own fears as a manager. After a series of infuriating questions, she got me to admit that I was trapped by my own beliefs about success. I finally admitted I would never be satisfied until I was as successful as Bill Gates.

Being myself was never good enough and, as a result, being comfortable in my own leadership was impossible.

‚ÄúIf you bring forth what is in you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is in you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.‚ÄĚ  Jesus, Gospel of Thomas

It was only later, after allowing myself to bring forth what is in me, that I emerged not only as a leader but a Jedi master.

Joel Spolsky, in his guest post for this series, tackled what I hear all too often in my workshops. He takes the Steve Jobs Question head on.

He writes:

‚ÄúAnd yes, you‚Äôre right, Steve Jobs‚Ķwas a dictatorial, autocratic asshole who ruled by fiat and fear.‚ÄĚ But, importantly, he points out ‚Äúyou are not Steve Jobs.‚ÄĚ Just like I am not Bill Gates.

Indeed, I think what Jesus taught was a simple truth: the only choice that doesn’t destroy you is to be the leader you were born to be. The alchemy of becoming your self is the ultimate act of leadership.

Listen close enough and you’ll hear echoes of this from every conceivable source.

Phil Sugar, tells us who he is and what he believes in the simple statement that, ‚ÄúMy biggest legacy is the network of people I‚Äôve hired and what they‚Äôve gone on to do.‚ÄĚ

Matt Blumberg, having gone through his own crucible challenged conventional wisdom (and the advice of Fred), choosing instead to invest in his team. ‚ÄúWe consistently work at improving our management skills,‚ÄĚ he notes adding that, ‚ÄúWe learn from the successes and failures of others whenever possible.‚ÄĚ

JLM writes:

‚ÄúDevelop a philosophy of management. Write it down. Try it out on some folks whose wisdom you admire. Put it to work‚Ķ‚ÄĚ and, my favorite, ‚ÄúLive it.‚ÄĚ

I read in all these thoughts a steady, consistent wisdom: the wisdom of knowing yourself, your own beliefs, and living them.

Enduring the alchemical crucible requires developing the capacity to reflect, to turn the pain of the everyday life as a leader into lessons. Every wisdom tradition I‚Äôve ever encountered‚ÄĒfrom Fred‚Äôs blog to the words of sages‚ÄĒultimately demands the same thing: we must go inward.

That’s often the biggest obstacle to becoming your self. The frenzied, frenetic, do-it-now, answer-the-email-now-or-the-company-will-die-even-though-it’s-3 a.m. attitude is precisely the wrong process of becoming your self.

Joseph Campbell, writing in The Power of Myth, says,  ‚ÄúYou must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning‚Ķa place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.‚ÄĚ

Call that room, at that hour, the crucible of leadership.

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. andyswan

    I love this. ¬†Over the past year, I’ve started to force myself to power EVERYTHING down for at least 1 hour per day (usually 1.5). ¬†Just me, a pen and blank sheets of paper. ¬†Sometimes they stay blank. ¬†Sometimes they fill up with nonsense. ¬†Sometimes, I simplify the core of something important and really figure it out.Every time, I end it with more focus and a clear mind.

    1. jerrycolonna

      I find it to be just such a relief, Andy, to power down. I need to do it fairly often just to stay sane.

      1. andyswan

        Ya more defensive than anything!

  2. klusterr

    Having just ‘cleaned out my closet’, I am on a mission to simplify. Reading this reminded me of the first time I read Siddharta. In fact I think I’ll go read it again.

  3. Joaquín R. Kierce

    Jerry, do you think that our inability to go inward and “bring forth what is in us” lies in the fact that we see our true self and think is the last demon?Or maybe the last demon is – we think – the consequences of bringing forth what is in us?

    1. jerrycolonna

      ūüôā I didn’t think of that but, yes, as you say it. It rings really true.

      1. panterosa,

        shadow dancing hopefully comes after shadow boxing

  4. John Best

    Thanks Jerry and Fred, this is a great summation and wrap of the series. Part of me wants to write more, but I don’t think it’d add anything. It’s just powerful, useful stuff.Thanks again.

  5. John Revay

    Thanks for sharing Jerry Рlots of good stuff/thoughts in that post.  I especially like how you worked in comments from the other contributors to this series.I once met a very successful hedge fund mgr.  He was very big into mediation.  I get the sense you may agree w/ him on taking that time each day to gather your thoughts.Thks again for sharing

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re really welcome.¬†

  6. bijan

    awesome post jerry. some of the hardest things to improve are the hardest things to admit 

    1. reece

      well put Bijan

    2. testtest

      Yes. according to carl jung, as well. or, at least in a similar vein:i’m talking in reference to carl jung’s shadow:

      1. borzoos

        sounds like Dexter’s dark passenger¬†…

      2. jerrycolonna

        Indeed…embracing your shadow is profoundly powerful element of not only growing into your leadership but, ultimately, becoming you.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Luckily for stubborn folk like myself all you need is time (and love / support) to figure them out — not meaning to make that sound like the path will be easy.On that note, I’ve tentatively found a technical co-founder who’s awesome. *crosses fingers* *knocks on wood* *avoids stepping on cracks on the sidewalk*

    4. jerrycolonna

      Thanks Bijan. You were the inspiration for all of this.

  7. truth_power

    #awesomehumility is the greatest strength

  8. jerrycolonna

    Thanks. The truth is, I’m just good at assembling other peoples’ wisdom. ūüôā

    1. William Mougayar

      Nice collection you have ! 

  9. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    Leadership is such an interesting topic; whenever I think about leadership I always fall back to my basketball playing days.A team has a coach, a captain, a point guard, and someone who consistently scores the most points on average in a game.So many times, when down by one and seconds to go the team with the ball will call a timeout and the coach will draw out some play and select someone to score the last second shot, the game winning shot.With experience its easy to spot the guy who has been selected to take the shot…But so many times he freezes and passes off.THAT is the true leader of the team; they are the one everyone doesn’t pay that much attention to normally, but they are the person the people on the court decide should take that shot.Oh, you can have CEO’s, Presidents, founders, whatever….but success only comes when an organization knows who the true “go to” guy is, or maybe they are called “the power behind the throne.”True leadership can only be achieved not by knowing your people, but rather by knowing yourself first because you cannot know your team without knowing yourself first. ¬†Nothing shows leadership more than after having been picked to take the winning shot to walk up to the “go to” guy and say, “…I will be looking for you….” ¬†

      1. William Mougayar

        You had to rub it in vs. Toronto?¬†Lin is on fire. I’m sure that watching the Knicks in the past 2 weeks has taken a new meaning. Here’s a study of his success:

        1. fredwilson

          i could have posted a clip of the end of the mavs game yesterday

          1. William Mougayar

            True. Here it is from yesterday:…¬†Tor vs. Knicks: March 20 in NY & March 23 in Toronto. I think I’m going to that game on 3/23.

      2. Dave Pinsen

        Sports Center’s play of the week for last week.

        1. fredwilson

          what KD did last night against Denver in the last minutes of regulation was pretty incredible tooKD is my favorite player in the NBA

          1. Dave Pinsen

            Career high for him, right?

          2. William Mougayar

            yes, and knicks are at .500 

          3. fredwilson

            yup. between him and westbrook, they had 90.

          4. JamesHRH

            How about Ibaka’s triple double?I love KD, but the whole Thunder deal must make Emerald City types weep in their lattes.KD, Westbrook, Harden, Perkins, Ibaka & Maynor (that dude has cold arteries) all under 30!

          5. Dave Pinsen

            11 blocks? Impressive. 

      3. K_Berger

        That was sweet. I walked into a meeting today and there was a life-size Michael Jordan cardboard cutout.  I think maybe every office needs one of those (at least in Chicago).

      4. JLM

        If you wrote that play in a novel, the editors would say —— nah, too corny!That guy is a stone cold assassin.

        1. fredwilson

          he does have off nights. which is good. otherwise it would be too hard to believe.

      5. JamesHRH

        I have to take issue here. I like Lin, his story is nice, but this clip does not make him anything.I am not a Raptor fan (how can you be? stuffy toy as emblem, gave Isaiah his first NBA gig, I could go on for days….).The Raptors ruin everything they touch, including Lin’s chance to really put on a display under pressure.I was a point guard. And I was not a great shooter, but if you gave me three dribbles into my rhythm, under the gun, with my adrenaline pumping, I hit that shot.Hell, every¬†guard in the league could and should hit it, given the defence.The Raptors are like watching a train wreck in some wild version of super slow motion that turns 30 seconds in to 30 years.The coach – HIRED BECAUSE HE WAS THE DEFENSIVE WHIZ OF LAST YEAR’S CHAMP – rationalized BACKING CALDERON OFF THE HOTTEST SCORER IN THE LEAGUE, by saying, in essence,¬†CALDERON COULD NOT GUARD HIM AND WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO DOUBLE TEAM.To quote Charlie Brown – AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHH !!!!!!!High school coaches would get canned, based on that decision.BTW, I would like it if the Raps were good, which is maybe apparent by now.

    1. gleslie

      Basketball provides such a great analogy for this “building the management team” topic. It really highlights the challenge presented by the transition between building a successful product and building a successful organization.Every entrepreneur who creates a new product is trying to put points on the scoreboard. Whether they are a great 3 point shooter, a great post player, a Kevin Durant type all around scorer or a great passer. Then once they prove that their product works, that they can put points on the scoreboard, they are immediately asked to be the general manager to find some teammates and the head coach to create a game plan and get everyone pushing in the same direction.Maybe the NYC linsanity is getting to me but I think the analogy works.¬†

  10. William Mougayar

    There was a certain sense of soothing that transcended this post, and already as I was reading it, I was more conscious about the self- part and its effects. Very true that when you disconnect from the fast and furious routine, your sense of introspection perks up, and you start gaining a new perspective because you’re derided of the acts of “doing” that cripple you all day long. That can be during a car or subway ride, a plane ride, a lunch walk, sitting at a conference listening to someone, or even reading a dose of AVC which for some of us is like therapy.¬†Thinking and doing are diametrically opposed.¬†You need to put time aside for thinking, so that the doing part gets better.

    1. jerrycolonna

      “Thinking and doing are diametrically opposed. ” Amen. I’m glad you experienced some soothing from the post. That’s exactly what I hoped for.

    2. panterosa,

      William, you left out feeling. I disagree it’s only thinking when not doing.¬†Although, I find I try to think very little these days. It messes up being in the zone – experiencing the now.

      1. William Mougayar

        Feeling is part of thinking?

        1. panterosa,

          Feeling in my view is different than thinking and not always part of doing, as per how you commented above. Listening to your gut and so on.

        2. Donna Brewington White


          1. William Mougayar

            But feeling transcends both thinking & doing, no?

          2. Donna Brewington White

            My response was a reaction to the idea of feeling as a subset of thinking. Feeling is its own category. I don’t know if I’d say transcends — I think they are all interconnected. It’s the awareness of how we are being influenced by feelings that is key (or how we are not being influenced by them which is another problem). I’m probably so adamant about this because I am such a thinking being — my mind matured much more quickly than my emotions. So I am still catching up. Probably why I married an artistic type — for balance — even though it drives me crazy at times. ūüėČ On the other hand, “feeling as fact” is a symptom of immaturity. I like the idea of integration, infusion… where feeling (emotion) and thinking work in partnership — or maybe it’s a dance — and doing comes out of that.

          3. William Mougayar

            But I think the context I was discussing here was thinking about something vs. doing something. I think of Feeling as a parallel thing that can help both doing and thinking. I’m not disputing its place or importance.

          4. Donna Brewington White

            So did I get off track? Fancy that.

          5. William Mougayar

            Not really. I think you and Panterosa mentioned Feelings.

          6. panterosa,

            “feeling as fact” derives from the importance of feelings needing to be treated as real. Getting to why you feel x is to get to the root of how your feelings interpreted the facts. that’s the layer of confusion in most miscommunication IMHO.

          7. Donna Brewington White

            Absolutely! Feelings may not represent fact, but we ignore the important information they provide at our peril. I grew up in a home where one parent’s feelings were on display for the world to see and the other kept feelings hidden, but both were equally and primarily motivated by feelings. Fact schmact. Have had to unlearn walking on eggshells — and to give feelings their proper and rightful place (was sorely tempted to disregard them). I’m a little passionate about this topic — and maybe that’s why my kids are a little too much in touch with their emotions. ūüėČ

        3. JamesHRH

          Recent investigation in neuroscience absolutely connects thinking to the body.Emotion and analysis are absolutely integrated with the physical.

          1. panterosa,

            As Jerry says, feelings are in the body.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      “or even reading a dose of AVC which for some of us is like therapy.”So true.

      1. William Mougayar


  11. Michael Elling

    Propitious timing following yesterday’s gospel, Mark 2:1-12.¬† Paralysis is physical as well as mental and emotional.¬† You have to let go, accept your faults and be willing to be forgiven.¬†

  12. Cynthia Schames

    Jerry, this is ballistic-power wisdom. I especially appreciated the demon story, because I’m in that cave right now. ¬†Thank you so much for sharing, and thank you to Fred for making it possible for us to read and learn from your words.¬†

    1. Dave Pinsen

      Maybe I’m too literal, but I didn’t quite see how the demon story fit in here. What if the demon decides to eat you? For a Zen Buddhist, that might be an acceptable outcome, but presumably not for a CEO.

      1. jerrycolonna

        Ah…but the demon dissolved. That’s really the whole point. Not all threats are creations of the mind, of course. But it’s really important figuring out those that are.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Yeah, I was confused by the demon bowing as well — it felt like giving in to the demon — letting it have its way. ¬†I generally think of demons as being merciless.By your conclusion, I saw that my interpretation did not fit. ¬†Still, I’d rather slay the demons. ¬†But then I’m not a Buddhist. ūüėČ

        2. Dave Pinsen

          No question, but putting your head in the demon’s mouth, metaphorically speaking, doesn’t seem to be the most prudent way of finding out whether the threat is real.

      2. Cynthia Schames

        @daveinhackensack:disqus¬† I think¬†@JLM:disqus¬†really explained it much better upthread than I could…and of course¬†@jerrycolonna:disqus¬†makes the point that once we actually accept the presence of those demons, and accept that WE ARE POWERLESS against them, that’s the moment we win.¬†

    2. jerrycolonna

      Thanks Cynthia.

    3. William Mougayar

      “ballistic-power wisdom”Word of the day.¬†

      1. jerrycolonna


    4. panterosa,

      yes BALListic wisdom

      1. William Mougayar

        That too.

  13. William Mougayar

    Re:”…because I have to be right, all the time.”¬†Jerry- why is it so for some people? What causes that? I have seen some very smart people be very poor at taking criticism. Is it over-confidence, or thinking they are invincible, therefore not needing the advice of others?

    1. Brandon Burns

      i think it’s denial, usually of reality. when you believe in something very strongly, you want to see it happen; and if there’s a discrepancy between how you think you can make it happen and what’s really needed to make it happen, you’ll will it into existence your way ‚ÄĒ the way you’ve probably had past success with, and the only way you think you know how ‚ÄĒ before you go out of your comfort zone and take the time/effort to pick up new knowledge/skills you don’t have, or even think you need, “just” to do it “society’s” way.but then again, sometimes its just arrogance, stupidity or laziness. ūüôā

    2. Laurent Boncenne

      Usually lack of confidence instead, being right validates what you’re doing and what you are, and when you’ve got a low self esteem or have a lack of confidence in yourself, it’s a huge way to feel better about yourself… (my opinion of this anyway).I think in the case of someone who needs to be right, it’s not advice they seek per se, but rather some form of validation (even if is a critique disguised as a validation).

      1. William Mougayar

        I think there is more to it than low self-esteem or insecurity. 

        1. Laurent Boncenne

          definitely, but it can be one of the starting point. But as you mentioned in reply to Jerry below, It hits the super secure and insecure i really dig the way comments show on, but i’ve just noticed with this, any chance you’ll implement the edit function anytime soon or is this impossible because of the disqus api?

          1. William Mougayar

            C’est ca. That was my conclusion.

          2. William Mougayar

            Thanks. Editing had not been a big priority, but I will find out from my tech team the scope of doing it.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          I generally find that people who need to be right also have a need for control. ¬†Plus they feel a sense of shame in “not knowing.” ¬†They typically have “shame issues.”Shame is a highly destructive force.¬†

          1. William Mougayar

            True. Shame & control are 2 other parameters that enter that same equation.

    3. jerrycolonna

      I think it’s the opposite. It’s compensatory behavior for feeling insecure.

      1. ShanaC

        why do we all feel so insecure

        1. jerrycolonna

          VERY tough issue Shana. Mark Epstein, a Buddhist psychiatrist and write, says in his book Going On Being that it may be rooted in the foundational aspect of Western childhood where the child is perceived as knowing nothing, a blank slate, and in need of learning everything. 

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Too often parenting and K-12 keep pushing students to do better.¬† As in¬†¬†¬†¬†…they can use a carrot and a stick:¬† The carrot offers attention, praise, acceptance, approval, prizes, presents, etc.¬† The stick offers rejection, criticism, and punishment.¬† So a child can become just terrified of ever being wrong, really, of just being criticized, justly or not.¬† This terror is essentially anxiety, and anxiety leads to obsessive/compulsive behavior as in “…because I have to be right, all the time.”.¬†

          2. ShanaC

            Its not just a school thing, or a parent thing. Its also a social thing. We don’t encourage kids to just be…

          3. ShanaC

            I was talking about this last night:The hardest thing to do is to love some uncoditionally, especially if that person is yourself. Its also the most needed thing in the world.If you assume a child is a blank slate, and s/he doesn’t turn out the way you want, not only do you not like yourself because you feel like a failure, and a big one at that, you also fail your child because s/he will know (often from a young age) that s/he is also failing. It makes it even harder to teach said kid to love him/herself.Some days I wish I could fix that one part of life….

      2. William Mougayar

        But I have seen that with super-smart people too. I think perhaps it’s a polarization thing? It hits the super secure and insecure.

        1. JamesHRH

          Super smart is all they have.From Michael’Lewis’ Boomerang, the Greek monks who smoke the Greek government on some land deals have this as their motto:”The wise man accepts; the idiot insists.”Lewis sagely notes that this is, essentially, the fundamental rule of Improv comedy – always take what you are given and build on it.Or, it is never ‘no, but’ it is always ‘yes, and…..’.Which is a real heart stopper for me, as our philosophy is ‘yes, but….’. What do you think that means ūüėČ

  14. Mark Essel

    My “hour” is the 2 hours of walking each morning. I’ve been cranking it up by walking faster with a couple of friends but I don’t come away as calm and focused as I do when I walk alone.Plenty of great wisdom in this post Jerry, especially tuning in to a genuine and personal style of leadership. Work catalyzes both destabilizing and harmonic practices, and we do best by ourselves and folks around us by nurturing the balancing rhythms. Know and manage yourself.

    1. reece

      my time is my walking commute as well… or sometimes a long run (though it’s hard to take notes while running ūüėČ

    2. Tom Labus

      Walking is when I do my best thinking.  This is always done without phone/music and solo.

    3. jerrycolonna

      Thanks Mark. You might enjoy¬†Thich Nhat Hanh’s emphasis on walking meditation.

      1. Mark Essel

        I read Peace is Every Step in early 2006, and it was an ideal match to my experiences walking. Thich Nhat Hanh is nearly too optimistic for me, quite a happy camper given his background.

        1. jerrycolonna

          If you haven’t yet, you should hang with him. It’s a delight (and talk about the opiate effect!)

          1. Mark Essel

            My brother and I discussed visiting Plum Village for one of their retreats years ago (before I was married) but we failed to make it happen (cost is not bad per person per week, flight to France broke our interest at the time).My wife wouldn’t be into a retreat, and unfortunately I don’t think Thich Nhat Hanh travels much anymore (he’s 85-86).Have you been to Plum Village, or listened to Thich Nhat speak?

    4. Kevin Friedman

      ¬†I call them “sanity walks.” ūüôā

    5. JLM

      Walking is fabulous but there is nothing as refreshing as swimming in cold water.  One summer I swam a mile every day for 92 days in a spring at 66F where a lap was 1/8 mile and a round trip was 1/4 mile.I would go home in 100F with the top down and feel freezing.It so cleared my head that I was a new person, like a rebirth every night.  I was so brightly happy thereafter as to be a simpleton.For a chicken fried steak, name that spring in Austin, TX.Hint: Barton Springs where Indians camped for over a thousand years.

      1. Mark Essel

        That sounds suspiciously like the euphoria of shock recovery. Was there any danger your body would cease functioning at that temperature?edit: quick read on the subject of cold water swimming…Sounds like you were acclimating to activity in cold water. Did you shiver heavily?

        1. JLM

          Well played!

    6. Donna Brewington White

      I’ve been missing my long walks on the beach (or anywhere else) lately and I am definitely a lesser person for it.¬†The fact that you walk for two hours a day, Mark, explains a lot.

    7. PhilipSugar

      A way to keep meetings to the point is to only do them on walks.  That is a rule for me for internal meetings.

  15. Amy Bevilacqua

    I’m just starting to follow Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability ¬†…. ¬†Jerry’s notes about bringing forth what is in us–being our true selves–ties into the idea that when we are our true selves, when we are vulnerable, we allow others to do and be the same. ¬†Maybe that’s what is most powerful–building that capacity in others, giving them permission to be their whole and best selves.

    1. jerrycolonna

      I love this Amy. Thanks.

  16. reece

    so much knowledge dropped here…¬†this…¬†‚ÄėEat me if you wish.‚Äô He places his head in the demon‚Äôs mouth, and at that moment the largest demon bows low and dissolves into space.‚Ä̬†… is how i’ve learned to deal with any fears as a founderonce you accept that most of your fears are self-manufactured and that the world will not collapse should you fail, it is much easier to make progress. to breathe and just knock off the challenges in front of you one at a time

    1. Jason

      yes one at a time! ¬†playing superman isn’t always as efficient as it may seem to be.

    2. jerrycolonna

      I loved that image myself…Milarepa is the Man. ūüėČ

  17. Brandon Burns

    I find¬†one of the hardest things is to remember, and live, the lessons you’ve already learned.¬†I’m a firm believer that when there’s a problem, seeing yourself as the root of it gives you the most amount of power to change it. I forget that from time to time. This post helped me to remember that. Thanks.

  18. Tom Labus

    This was great thanks, Jerry.¬†You have a great touch and your customers are lucky to have you.Letting go. ¬†I used to run 10ks and learned that I could rest and catch my breath on downhills if I just “fell” down them instead of trying to manage them.

    1. jerrycolonna

      That’s very kind of you. I LOVE the image of “falling down” the hills.

  19. Rohan

    Work of a Jedi Grandmaster, this is..

  20. leigh

    Demons.  Bloody demons.  I used to think they drove success vs. being a barrier.What a load of crap we convince ourselves of.  Inward is hard.

    1. jerrycolonna

      “What a load of crap we convince ourselves of.” Exactly!

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I know it was the demon that first motivated me, though as I’m sure the more experienced / people who are farther along here would note too – as I’ve been letting go of the demons and realizing I can accomplish things without them as the drive, it’s gotten all so much better.There are still the challenges with any business you’re trying to launch mind you, but that feels more like navigating now than having a pressure from something negative driving you.Inward is hard, but rewarding.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        It is noteworthy that you knew when to let go, Matt.. ¬†Generally they lure you in and aren’t satisfied until they own (or devour) you body and soul. And few people see it happening.

        1. leigh

          Did you see Kevin Costners Eulogy for Whitney Houston? It’s posted up on Youtube and worth a watch (i know – but really….)

        2. Matt A. Myers

          I know I saw it happening, though I’m not sure I had a choice – it would have destroyed me if something didn’t change, as you said … it would have owned my body and my soul. Some big lessons and internal challenges still present themselves to me, though I’m getting better at letting them come up and piecing together what they mean and using them to better guide my next decisions.

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      A habit in life – unless checked – is that we can all too easily over-analyse others whilst never analysing ourselves.I ‘let go’ last summer and at the grand old age of 51 I now understand myself a lot, lot better – ironically only as a result of some very negative forces that were impacting my life.Jerry’s wisdom has been invaluable in my rebuilding myself.¬†Celebrate being driven by a desire to be creative, positive, open, trusting. Don’t be sucked into ‘playing the game’ for others.

      1. JLM

        The GAME is a big lie and life is real.You have to get past the GAME to get to real life.When you really, really know what you value and what drives you, you are just then starting to live.

        1. JamesHRH

          Read this & passed along.Had to come back to it.Don’t you think that knowing How to Play THE GAME is important, even though playing is a mistake?

    4. William Mougayar

      I was writing a post last week, and in it I said ” Don’t believe your own shit. Let others believe in it.”

  21. awaldstein

    Relaxing to gain control was tough for me. Still isI took up SCUBA, mostly deep water, years ago to attack this. Type A personalities have a huge problem relaxing under water, maintaining equilibrium and conserving air. A few hundred dives later, breaking the surface became a metaphor for giving in to get control that still works for me. 

    1. William Mougayar

      I didn’t know that about you Arnold. I’m a NAUI. Are you NAUI or PADI?

      1. awaldstein

        There are still a few things about me that may surprise you William;)PADI. Dove the infinite wall that stretches from T &C east in the Caribbean many times. First got into this as I used to be in Singapore a lot meeting with my boss every month and was close to amazing dive spots. Remarkable places actually, especially in the early 90s.

        1. Dale Allyn

          Koh Phi Phi and beyond, eh?. ūüėȬ†Sadly, it has now changed a lot.¬†

          1. awaldstein

            Yes…It was amazing.¬†

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Oh neat.I think this is what Bikram classes do for me.

      1. awaldstein

        Makes sense.Everyone needs something that breaks the norm and changes it for the better.

    3. andyidsinga

      I grew up doing a lot of weekend¬†snorkeling (still do when I visit my folks on vancouver island) … so true about relaxing the breathing being difficult even when just floating on the surface :)I find process similar when boogie boarding and waiting around for waves… hard to relax, burning energy like crazy …then all of a sudden there it is and the fun begins.

      1. awaldstein

        The waters off of Vancouver Island are never really warm Andy;))When I wen to grad school at UBC, I ¬†hiked lots of beaches on Vancouver Island but can’t remember swimming much!

        1. andyidsinga

          hehe – everyone says that – my wife thinks step dad and I are nuts – but on the in-land side, in late summer we can swim without a wetsuit.¬†Of course, as soon as you dive down several feet you get to that cold layer ;)Now in Oregon, on the other hand, open ocean I use a 3-2 wet suite and booties and I can stay in ¬†for hours ūüôā

          1. awaldstein

            I agree with your wife…that is swimming off Vancouver Island truly does make you nuts ;))But…from Wreck Beach (where I made my poetry class read out loud), to the amazing beaches on the Western side of Vancouver Island, to the Gulf Islands and up the Sunshine Coast, the beaches are truly amazing.¬†In fact, thanks for triggering this. My BC days on the coast and in the North Okanagan are coming back strong.¬†

          2. William Mougayar

            Wreck Beach ūüôā My days there were from the early 80’s.¬†

        2. William Mougayar

          Funny I have dived around Vancouver too while going to UBC. Definitely cold waters, and not always clear. Good for training. 

          1. awaldstein

            Didn’t connect that you went to UBC as well William.¬†We have some stories to swap I bet.¬†

          2. William Mougayar

            We will. Next week ūüôā

    4. PhilipSugar

      You should learn how to fly, especially in IFR (instruments) on the East Coast. ¬†That takes SCUBA to the next level, and I learned wreck diving off of Delaware which would not be ideal conditions.I don’t know if its giving in, but its learning that flailing is not only not going to get you there but makes things worse.I had a great instructor who would yell at me in a Scottish Brogue while she was smacking me, “you’re baking a cake in here!” ¬†(flailing your arms on the controls)Now that I think about it, that is the way I’ve been taught everything. ¬†Interesting, because that’s not how I teach, but certainly how I’ve learned. ¬†Football, Rugby, Rock Climbing and Skeet Shooting.I can clearly remember Poppa John¬†… cracking me upside the head while he was teaching me to shoot skeet. ¬†I always smiled at the irony. ¬†Here is a WWII vet cracking me who dwarfs him and has a loaded 12 gauge.

      1. awaldstein

        Thnx Phil. Terrific story.I need something. Maybe that is it.I was thinking something more mundane but physically challenging and competitive, like taking my semi obsession with  physical exercise to another limit and getting into CrossFit. Since I work with young entrepreneurs maybe challenging ourselves together in the box doing unheard of Rocky type things with a lifetime of years between us is another way.

        1. PhilipSugar

          I don’t know. ¬†We used to box in my Fraternity. ¬†Hard not to hold a grudge after getting your ass kicked.Believe me. ¬†The first way to tell if somebody has kicked ass is to ask them about a story when they’ve gotten their ass kicked. ¬†Sales, boxing, MMA, I don’t care.

          1. awaldstein

            Food for thought.I’m thinking on your suggestion.Thnx.

      2. JLM

        The East Coast particularly around Patuxent NAS has the best ATC personnel in the entire country.I love flying up V1 along the coast to NJ to see my 93-year old Dad.Coming home once, I was threaded through some huge storms over the Chesapeake (?) by an ATC from Patuxent who just made me so comfortable.Bear in mind in TX, we won’t get within 40 miles of a cell. ¬†I was probably within 10 miles of those cells. ¬†Stupid, stupid, stupid.This guy was so good, he could have talked me through a triple bypass. ¬†His voice was calm, precise and soothing. ¬†I flew his azimuths without any hesitation and 50 miles later, there was the sun.I was stupid to have allowed myself to get into that fix, but he saved my ass.

  22. Richard

    What about leading people from several cultural regions? Is there a cultural / regional devide? Is there a last management mile?  (delivering tailored messages to different cultures ?) 

  23. JimHirshfield

    “The magic, the alchemy, occurs when what we do mixes with who we are and is cooked by the heat of what we believe.”Most people only know what they do, not who they are or what they believe. I suppose you can spend a lot of time figuring that out. Great post, thanks.

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re welcome. To me the real strength comes from first, knowing you are, and then doing the work to figure out what you believe.

  24. Rohan

    ¬†The topic, said Fred with his flair for understatement, ‚Äúis very important.‚ÄĚhaha

    1. jerrycolonna


      1. Donna Brewington White

        I was so glad you said that!  But it is part of his charm.

        1. jerrycolonna

          There is so much charm in that guy. He has a huge heart. That’s my favorite part.

    2. fredwilson

      old friends know each other well

  25. awaldstein

    Thnx for this post Jerry.Creating and managing out of inspiration is not the same as managing out of tension. Huge difference for me at least.In my short stint in the movie biz I had the opportunity to sit in the room with some of the huge talents whose projects were massive risks in the $100M range. I was amazed at their inspiration that drove expansive teams of people and infinite decisions. Inner calm was needed to drive that much self belief and deal with the huge success and failures around these projects. 

  26. JoshuaKahn

    “..break open our hearts to what IS”So blindingly simple, but so incredibly powerful as a guiding principle. ¬†Great post Jerry. ¬†I wonder have you read “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie? She’s married to Stephen Mitchell, well known author and translator of classic texts.She has a powerfully simple approach to understanding yourself and how you interact with the world. ¬†Lot’s of parallels to the topics you’ve covered here.

    1. jerrycolonna

      I have Joshua and I love her work.So much of a leaders’ anxiety, I think, is rooted in being in conflict over what is and trying, like hell, to fight it.

  27. ShanaC

    First off, I love this.Secondly, I wish people would talk more about how hard the process to be yourself is. ¬†I find it difficult. ¬†I’m sure others do.

    1. jerrycolonna

      ūüôā I agree Shana. I often say that I’m like the Blues Brothers…I’m on a mission from God…this time to make it safe to talk about heart and soul in the workplace.

      1. ShanaC

        Well thank you. its been something on my mind as I transition into a more “me” person. Its truthfully one of the most difficult parts of my life, though overall I am happy it is happening, and happy it happening while I’m young….

  28. Irving Fain

    Fantastic post Jerry! Self awareness and self-introspection is one of the hardest, yet most important acts anyone can undertake; leader or not. I absolutely loved this line: “The alchemy of becoming your self is the ultimate act of leadership.”Thanks for sharing

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re welcome Irving.

  29. kirklove

    I always feel better and more calm after I read a “Jerry”. This one was tremendous. Thanks Jerry. Here’s to selfishly hoping you write more.

    1. jerrycolonna

      ¬†I’m an opiate. ;)You’re very welcome. Thank YOU for the kind words.

      1. panterosa,

        oh so that’s what’s in your kool aid….

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        And by way of contrast, so much of life/business – if we allow ourselves to be sucked into it in a superficial state – is simply a placebo…

  30. JLM

    Well played!I love the analogy about the demons because entrepreneurs have demons within and demons without. ¬†Understanding that entrepreneurs are paid in a different currency than just money is very important for our own sense of self.The demons without are to be overcome and banished while the demons within are to be nurtured and fed. ¬†I think that is the story of Steve Jobs harnessing the frustration of getting canned by a company he created and then coming back to lead it to glory.One of those demons is the unquenchable desire to lead, to lead a team and to accomplish something much bigger than one could alone through the efforts of others.It is incredible how much can be accomplished if you are not fixated on being the smartest person in the room or getting the lion’s share of the credit. ¬†It is surely manipulative to be able to brand that credit on someone else. ¬†But it is the key to long term success.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Always perfect overviews from you.Steve Jobs left one thing that should be valued by all and that is the example of what’s capable. ¬†He created something that no one else would of had the vision for and fought hard to reclaim his destiny.¬†I do agree demons exist, some that initially drive you, though I believe if you want to be truly successful, and not leading as a tyrant, then you’ll learn to be gentle, understanding, and kind. And for an idea to move forward it does need to bring benefit to others, and improvement to the quality and ease of life – that will better society as a whole.Your last paragraph hits home for me. The internal conflict I had was with how large my plans are, and with where I currently am at – and really forcing me to evaluate how I value ideas (which I value highly) and how to value people (which my ideas can’t be created without).One thing that’s been a pain at times though has been a helpful and necessary guide to help me learn how to lead is that I am a stickler for fairness, for being fair. This really has forced me to analyze and deeply understand what fair would mean. How valuable are the first co-founders, the first team members, the first investors, etc.. and what is fair, and what isn’t fair.I feel the above paragraph is why I found and keep coming back to AVC is the transparency and fairness that Fred tries to cultivate here, and that has attracted other great people who believe fairness (and all it encompasses) is a quality that you can’t or shouldn’t go without.

      1. JLM

        The use of the term “demons” does not mean that they manifest themselves in ways that are contrary to good behavior.An example is the person who has been impacted by a childhood in poverty or an initially inadequate education or being turned down over and over.I see these as being fuel for your personal fires.Being fair, understanding and kind is always good business. ¬†You are trying to “coax” the best performance out of a peer or subordinate — and yourself.Being fair is always the right thing to do and erring on the side of being overly fair will only pay huge dividends in the future. ¬†It is very important to get buy in on what you think is fair because often just a little nudge makes it a consensus.I try to end every “issue” by asking — does that seem like a workable plan? ¬†Did you get a full opportunity to be heard? ¬†Is this a fair resolution?Just the symbolism of that closing dialogue will influence the other person to know that your sense of fairness is at work here.Fair is almost always a negotiation and sometimes you will not get the other person to know and believe that you are being fair. C’est la vie!

    2. panterosa,

      Being the smartest one in the room is a bore. How do you learn then???

    3. William Mougayar

      I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room, but I want to sit at the smartest table in the room.

      1. JLM

        You are the smartest guy in the room.  Who are you kidding?

        1. William Mougayar

          Nah. You’re too kind and most flattering. Each one of us is smart about something.

    4. Rohan

      If you’re the smartest person in the room.. you’re in the wrong room! ūüėČ

  31. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Great wrap up of the series.¬† All that you wrote, from my perspective, is very true and so much easier said than done.¬† And that’s why there are very few great leaders/managers because many don’t take the time to look inside.¬† I’ve done a lot of soul searching and if luck/fate permits, I hope to be able to put what I’ve learned into a leader of people position again.¬† I also think being a parent causes most of us (who aren’t too busy trying to be like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs) to prioritize and self reflect to figure out what is important to us and others.

  32. Matt A. Myers

    Edit: This was supposed to be in reply to someone.. moving it!

  33. panterosa,

    The problem with the last demon is that there is no turning back. Those who fear fully becoming themselves because they fear they won’t live up to who they wanted to be, don’t take the final step and add their secret ingredient to the crucible. Buyer’s remorse is a strong root in insecurity.

  34. bfeld

    The absolute, total brilliance of Jerry shines bright. I so love what you write. Your brain is a national treasure.

    1. jerrycolonna

      ūüôā Thanks so much Brad. I’m humbled and moved to tears.

      1. bfeld

        Sending you a giant karma hug from Miami Beach.

        1. jerrycolonna


  35. Carl Rahn Griffith

    Thank you, Jerry.

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re welcome Carl

  36. sigmaalgebra

    Nice.¬† I can’t claim to understand all of it fully; I couldn’t give solid arguments in favor of all of it; and Eastern wisdom generally escapes me (heck last night even a good way to cook Sweet Sour Pork escaped me), but, still, it’s nice.I would make two remarks in support:First, there is an old piece of advice about dealing with others: “Always look for the hidden agenda.”. Well, as your essay explains, the advice should apply also to oneself.And I did find that some of the worst problems in dealing with people was the hidden agenda they had about themselves, hidden from me and also even themselves.¬† In effect, for much of what they were doing, for the views they had, the actions they were taking, they didn’t really know why and neither did I; they were doing things without knowing why they were doing them.¬† And as the essay illustrated, getting such a hidden agenda explained openly can be difficult but significant.Making and executing good plans effectively is difficult enough when this goal is addressed openly and seriously; good results are even more difficult when actions are being taken without even knowing why.¬† Shots in the dark have low ROI.Yes, we can suspect that in some cases such a hidden agenda is some response to some anxiety and that the anxiety has created some obsessive/compulsive behavior.Second, there is the remark that the definition of an adult is someone who has become their own parent in the sense that they are now able to tell themselves the advice they used to get from their parents and to provide the discipline for themselves they used to get from their parents.¬† Of course I’m quoting this remark loosely from E. Fromm’s The Art of Loving.¬† So, one problem can find in people is that they are not an adult in this sense and, net, still need someone else to provide advice and discipline.¬†

    1. Kevin Friedman

      Wow, really liked “And I did find that some of the worst problems in dealing with people was the hidden agenda they had about themselves.”So true. It’s so important that we come aware of our own demons so we don’t spread them — perhaps unknowingly — to others.

    2. JamesHRH

      For the longest time Siggy, I thought, that you only thought, this hard, about Math.;-)Great stuff – I too like the ‘hidden agenda about themselves’ line.

  37. William Mougayar

    People PAY for this kind of advice.You hit a nerve and then some with all of us, Jerry!  

    1. jerrycolonna

      :)That they do. And handsomely!Seriously, thanks so much. My real, heart-felt goal is to make it easier, safer and better for people to talk about these things. It brings me enormous joy.

      1. William Mougayar

        And what’s best about it is how you do it. I’ve read/listened to other touchy-feely types of gurus or authors, and they never stuck with me. But you have that unique gift of almost nudging us to our own conclusions, and it is something that has a very lasting impact.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Jerry is touchy-feely with an edge… and with a purpose. ¬†I think that makes a difference for us Type A types.

          1. jerrycolonna

            I like that: “Touchy-feely with an edge.” M.akes me feel dangerous

          2. Donna Brewington White

            One of my favorite lines in literature:”…of course he’s not safe!”(From Chronicles of Narnia, referring to Aslan)

          3. jerrycolonna

            Now I LOVE that! Jerry as Aslan!!

  38. Kay Koplovitz

    learning to lead is based in the process of knowing yoiur own core values. In many ways, this is the theme Jerry leans on for this lesson. In his book , True North, Bill George brings this realization to light as well. Leading and managing are different skills, though one can learn to manage from many mentors, one can only find true North by looking inside. Sage advice.

    1. jerrycolonna

      Bill George is definitely a sage and True North is a wonderful, wonderful book. Thanks for bringing it into the field Kay.

  39. Matt A. Myers

    Leading yourself when you’re in your own little world, every moment you have the ability to choose where you are, what you are doing, no one else dictating what you should be doing – need to be doing – is absolutely the most difficult thing to learn to master. The hardest part I have found with it specifically is realizing you need to depend on other people, and which means you must trust them. You must be open to trusting them, too.I’ve been working on myself, to get through past life things that happened throughout my life, for many years now. Part of this has been trust issues. Probably the hardest has been learning to trust myself again.A regular yoga practice has gotten me through a lot, allowed energy to move when it would be stale otherwise – which forced me to deal with more, and not just allowing myself to sit idle. This self-exposed pressure, when I think back to it all, seems insane. However knowing that the process I put myself through was based on previous experiences, which always lead to two-steps-forward-one-step-back, allowed me to know I would eventually get through to the other end if I just kept persevering, and kept doing what I was doing to maintain myself, get the support I needed.As Leigh said elsewhere here – inward is hard. I’ve certainly kept moving forward though by going inward, through the cycles. Life is going to keep feeling more and more rewarding regardless of where I end up placing myself, being apart of.”What kind of company do you want to build? And what kind of adult do you want to be?”These are questions I find answers for through exploration in therapy I’ve been doing. What works best for me is envisioning how I see things working, and most recently with how I see a symmetrical relationship working – a co-founder – who has complementary skills, what would that look like? What would they be doing? What would I be doing? With the underlying/hidden caveat that appeared of what would be fair.I now have very recently found a tentative co-founder, and the power of intent really shined through big on this one.It’s of course only when you’re ready for it that something will happen, though you have to let yourself be ready for it – you have to find how to be ready for it, what you need or what you don’t need, to be ready for it.”I read in all these thoughts a steady, consistent wisdom: the wisdom of knowing yourself, your own beliefs, and living them.”Reminds me of yoga!‚ÄúYou must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning‚Ķa place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.‚ÄĚCreating space allows space for opportunity/change to exist. Initially there will be past demons/things that will fill this space, the more past undealt with stuff the longer this takes – the deeper they go.Once you start to learn the process it gets a bit easier each time, the process goes a bit faster – and then you can handle more and more, and your understanding and knowledge can and will deepen. It’s a fun little process. And so far there seem to be endless paths you can explore and deepen into.And once you’re closer to being in the present and you have more space for new things to enter the space, then that’s when big spaces of clarity occur.I really like how you suggested to create a space for leadership – the room, the hour. That is a great intent to have during a specific time or while in a specific place.¬†Was a pleasure to read. Thank you. :)Namaste

  40. harris497

    But what if you are so consumed with self doubt that you are constantly afraid.  Afraid to do the difficult thing, afraid that your decisions will come back to haunt you, afraid that people will look down upon you?I guess we are all afraid sometimes, but the key is to overcome those fears, but how do you do so consistently?

    1. jerrycolonna

      Keeping leaning into the fear. And then, lean in some more.Share as well. I can’t recommend strongly enough the power and grace that comes from peer support.We are all afraid. At times.

      1. BillMcNeely

        It sounds cheesy, but taking that first step or first action to accomplishment of the goal/mission will make all the others easier to take.Veterans often start healing from PTSD once they start sharing thier experiences.Sharing it works!

        1. jerrycolonna

          It’s not cheesy at all. In fact, I contend that being open about your own struggles not only helps you but helps others as well.¬†

          1. harris497

            Thank you guys.  But what exactly is leaning into your fears?  Sorry if its a stupid question, but is it like doing the thing that you fear in spite of the fear you feel?

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        You taught me that, Jerry – for which I will always be grateful.

        1. jerrycolonna

          Deep bow to you, Carl. It was a gift to be able to help a little.

      3. JLM

        Ranger saying:  Night is neutral, it favors no man.Fear is a coward, when you face it, it flees.

    2. JamesHRH

      I have had fears, leaning into them is 100% correct.If you cannot face your fear, you cannot understand your fear, which means you cannot solve the riddle of being afraid.Fear is both natural and necessary – a long time ago, it kept you from being something else’s dinner.Lean in, listen to what your fear tells you. Accept what you hear.

  41. jason wright

    Power up.No pearl of wisdom or insight comes to mind. If it does I’ll be back.Power down.

  42. andyidsinga

    What a story teller! thanks Jerry.

  43. Kevin Friedman

    I’m speechless… such an amazing post. I don’t know where to begin.I can remember a crucible moment that happened in our start-up:A member of our team met a person who shared a very similar mission to our company. He asked our team how we felt about sharing what we were doing with this person. My reaction was: “well… that sounds nice…. but I’m a little afraid about sharing our idea at this point…” Jerry, in his Jedi wisdom weighed in: “it’s time for mission gut check” and went on to point out that if our mission is REALLY to help people than maybe we are not in competition but, instead, can learn from and help each other.He was RIGHT. It turns out, I was experiencing the fight with my own personal demons: the demons of fear, the demons of needing to be a “success”, the demons of proving that I was truly special by building a “great” company.Thanks to this wise observation, I stopped “fighting” these demons and, instead, listened to them and opened myself up to what they were trying to teach me. I realized that even more important than whatever grandiose dreams I had for our company, as Jerry says in this post, the most important decision was answering “what kind of adult do you want to be?”I saw the demons disappear… and it felt great. I was free(r), and I’d like to believe, better able than ever to help lead our company closer to fulfilling our mission.As a side lesson, I also learned the importance of sharing our feelings and worries. What would have happened if I didn’t share my fear? And, what would have happened if I didn’t have someone to provide perspective on my feelings? I saw the importance of sharing our journey with one other.

  44. Dale Allyn

    Jerry, I appreciate the spirituality of your views and your processes. Thank you for sharing them. 

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re very welcome Dale.

  45. Viktor Marohnic

    I like this part:The alchemy of becoming your self is the ultimate act of leadership.Nicely put.

  46. Mrinal Desai

    Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Bob Dylan – “all I can do is be me, whoever that is”.Don’t you think social media just made it much more harder?

    1. jerrycolonna

      harder? perhaps but definitely more important.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        yes, definitely

    2. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Indeed. Ironically, I posted this bit of Dylan wisdom on my Twitter/Facebook the other day…Never be where one does not belong / help one’s neighbor with his load / don’t go mistaking paradise for that home across the road

    3. Donna Brewington White

      Interestingly, for me, it’s the contrary. ¬†Social media is actually helping me to be more me.Saying things in writing makes me more thoughtful, intentional…especially about being authentic and transparent. ¬†I find that this spills over into other areas of my life. ¬†¬†The other thing is that social media helps me to find “my people.” ¬†I love that my community is no longer limited by space. ¬†Unless you count cyberspace.

  47. BillMcNeely

    To be successful as a leader/manager you have to be comfortable with yourself and your approach to life. If you try being something you are not, your co-workers and subordinates will see right through that. They will know you are not authentic and thus you will loose your effectiveness.¬†My Crusiable of Leadership came during¬†the intial invasion of¬† Iraq. The unit I was assigned to had not been to the field to train much (think scrimage or practice)¬†together. Oh and¬†“my guys”¬†came from all walks of life¬†so we had the same problems/challenges (racial ,class, education, sexuality etc ) that you find in America. Trust me senior¬†managers at ¬†Fortune 500 have easy personnel problems compared to what first line managers and supervisors in the Army have to navigate before combat kicks off.¬†I had been in the military before but I had not been in a position of responsibility.¬†My commander¬† (boss) ¬†was this¬†former infantry officer ¬†from the 82nd Airborne (think 2012 Super Bowl Calibre New York Giants) On the outside very loud and seemingly hard charging . However I am really soft spoken intense guy¬† who lets my actions do my talking. This really bother my boss. So I guess without realizing it I started to¬†act like him.¬†After a few months in Iraq I started¬†leading different¬†days and weeks long missions¬†where my boss was not present so I reverted back to my natural state¬† My troops started to realize I was doing this Dr Jekyle and Mr Hyde routine and one of my troops walked up to me one day and said Sir¬†be yourself, you see you get the results you need when you are yourself and you see you don’t when you are not” So I took his advice and was myself the rest of¬† the deployment. At times it was painful when interacting with my boss but I held the line.¬†After 9 months, my commander was relieved of duty (my boss was fired) and so was our top enlisted man (1SG). Subsequently they both were charged with several crimes (loss of accountability of millions of dollars of equipment, abuse of subordiantes¬†and unauthorized weapons on the battlefield) resulting in fines, loss of rank and career progression.¬†Had I not been an authentic leader/manager and demonstrated ethics and morals my parents and the Army had taught me I am sure I would have suffered the same fate.

    1. Kevin Friedman

      Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciated this different perspective on the same issues. Amazing how much we can learn from each other. ūüôā

      1. BillMcNeely

        Thank you Kevin! I have really enjoyed this Management Team series within MBA Mondays. I love hearing a different perspective of leading/managing outside of the sports and military metaphors I have been exposed to.  The religous/spiritual examples were really nicely used as well.

    2. jerrycolonna

      Bill, I’m going to steal this…the whole thing. But more than anything, the “Sir, be yourself.” ¬†That’s it right there. What a powerful story.

      1. BillMcNeely

        Thank you for the kind compliment. You wrote a great piece.

    3. JLM

      Been there, done that.I remember a conversation with a 22-year old PFC, draftee with a degree in civil engineering from Lehigh. ¬†Almost two years in the Army getting ready to get out in a few months.I was a 22-year old 2nd LT Airborne Ranger Regular Army type with a degree in civil engineering from VMI. ¬†Less than 6 months in the Army.”Why the hell are you in charge, LT, when we have the exact same background and I have 2 more years experience than you do?””Don’t know, but you’re going to be my RTO for the rest of your tour.”He and I were an unbeatable team for about 6 months because I never pretended I knew more than I did but I remembered I was still in charge. ¬†Did not mean I had any idea what I was doing but I was still in charge.The Army is a funny place. ¬†I met guys of such incredible courage and character that to this day it still makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. ¬†I did things I cannot imagine myself ever doing then or again. ¬†I crammed about 20 years of living into about 5.5 years.Thanks for your service, Brother.

      1. JLM

        BTW, in the most elite units in the Army, nobody nobody nobody ever raises their voice.  Ever.Everybody already knows what they are supposed to do.  You just have to nod in the right direction or make a hand signal and it gets done.

        1. BillMcNeely

          I noticed that too. A lot less peacocking amongst Special Operations folks. Better listeners as well!

          1. JamesHRH

            Special Ops = better listeners.That’s one to remember!

          2. markslater

            “go over that hill an get shot at”…..i would listen carefully.

      2. BillMcNeely

        I learned a lot in the Army and if the A VC community is any indication, then I will learn more in the business as well. The founders of BetterWorks, Fidelis, TroopSwap and IC Data Communications have set the bar high for exiting veterans.

      3. JamesHRH

        Many bright people forget that you are still in charge, even if you do not know what you are doing.@JLM – could you repost the Motivate v. Inspire comment – can’t find it, want to capture it……

          1. JamesHRH

            No that’s not it – but it is really good!

    4. fredwilson

      i suspect for most military officers, the crucible comes at war time

    5. Donna Brewington White

      Bill, I am so impressed that you had the courage and humility to take advice from “one of your troops.”

    6. markslater

      great story – thanks for sharing.

  48. matthughes

    I really like the passage from the Gospel of Thomas.We all need to manifest our talents and redeeming qualities. 

    1. fredwilson

      mixing buddhism and christianity and businessthat’s jerry

      1. jerrycolonna

        And Star Wars ! The only thing missing is a reference to the Yankees.

        1. matthughes

          Which would by definition, be awesome. 

        2. JamesHRH

          That’s a demon reference, no?

  49. EmilSt

    Absolutely great end to a great series of posts. Thanks to all!

  50. David Semeria

    Truly excellent, Jerry – as always.I think a common theme in your examples above and much of what you write may be the idea of¬†occasionally¬†pushing the metaphorical pause button.Ironically, the people who are likely to benefit the most are the ones least likely to press.I’m so guilty of this myself – too busy dashing around my little tree to even see, let alone consider, the wood.

    1. jerrycolonna

      We ALL need those reminders, David.

      1. RichardF


  51. Reddy_s

    great article ¬†with these punch quotes …1/ I think what Jesus taught was a simple truth: the only choice that doesn‚Äôt destroy you is to be the leader you were born to be. — The alchemy of becoming your self is the ultimate act of leadership¬†2/ ¬†‚ÄúYou must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning‚Ķa place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.‚ÄĚCall that room, at that hour, the crucible of leadership.

  52. sz26

    There are many trials and tribulations, stresses and strains, that leaders will face. The litmus test of a par excellent leader, and an intimate, tender, human being, in my opinion, is your ability to:1) Listen and take advice from those around you, and give heed to the voice within you, and admit when you are wrong2) Take responsibility for being wrong 3) Have the courage to adapt, respond to change, and ultimately and most importantly, change yourselfRejecting advice, refusing to discern when you are wrong, dispelling any notion of personal responsibly for the error you committed, and remaining steadfast in the eternal call and necessity to change, may look like and is an attempt to convey and portray strength, but in reality, it is the embodiment of weakness. What leads to such intense defense of being right, when you are clearly wrong, is arrogance. Arrogance is more than a personalistic anomaly, a defect in morality, practically and not only metaphysically, it is the ultimate downfall to all greatness Рwhether it be a country or company, an individual human or a collective team. With this in mind, humility is the highest moral, creates the greatest human, and the most effective leader. If humility was considered more of a sign of how great of a leader you are, and not how much revenue you generate, we would have greater leaders, and ultimately, greater revenue.

  53. Donna Brewington White

    I was hoping that this post would not end.Oh well…

  54. JamesHRH

    Jerry РI have always found your approach a little hot and heavy for me. The allegory, the intensity & I think the anguish is just not my speed.But this post is terrific. I found it very straight forward Рto lead others, you must be able to identify and accept who they are and what they can accomplish.And, attempting to lead others when you cannot identify and accept yourself is foolhardy.Good luck helping folks connect these fundamental dots! 

    1. jerrycolonna

      Hot and Heavy??? Moi????;)

      1. JamesHRH

        LOL.Our tennis pro recently told my 9yo daughter that the trick to being a tennis pro isn’t knowing a lot about tennis – it was knowing a lot about people.”Everybody has to do the same 5 things to be good at tennis, ” Ralph says. “But everybody has their own way of ‘getting’ those 5 things. Helping you find your way is one of the tricks, talking to you in a way that helps you ‘get it’ is one of the tricks, those are the things I work on, when I work at being a good tennis pro.”I would pay the guy just to talk with her – wink, wink.

  55. Donna Brewington White

    Thank you, Fred. ¬†This has been an amazing series. ¬†I know I overuse the word “amazing” but this time it is truly deserved. ¬†I am sorry to see this series end.¬†But what a way to end it!!! ¬†Jerry has gone for the heart of the matter. ¬†I know that I have been touched and challenged by this post, and will continue to ponder it for a while. (Thank you, Jerry!)This was a remarkable series even without the guest posts, but the guest posts took it to a whole new level. ¬†Great wisdom in selecting contributors. ¬†You are a wise man, Fred. ¬†And that is an understatement. ¬†Also, enjoyed the Grimlock humor. ¬†Took me a moment to figure it out…was looking for ALL CAPS at the end.

  56. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Great article … Managing Self is the best way to manage the team.I remember a song from my local language which goes something like this …(can’t exactlytranslate in English because of my poor knowledge in English).If YOU understand yourself wellYOU can fight anywhere in the world.In success and failure YOU can live with your head-held high.

  57. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Instead of putting them as demons as a chemist(was a chemist ) I would put …Even Gold gains its strength from impurity (copper) … accept your impurity and shine like a Gold and don’t¬†succumb¬†to the impurity and become copper.

  58. David No√ęl

    What a way to wrap up these series, my favorite of the MBA Mondays so far. Thank you, Fred,  for facilitating these series and to all the contributors and to Jerry in particular for this final post. #priceless

  59. Carl Rahn Griffith

    @alaindebotton: You normally have to be bashed about a bit by life to see the point of daffodils, sunsets and uneventful nice days.

  60. David Clarke

    Thanks for an interesting and thought-provoking piece. Perhaps it’s a by-product of being European, but I am pretty sceptical of the introspective, self-actualizing leadership development style envisioned here. This is a polished articulation of that approach, but for me it depends too much on the Deus Ex Machina fallacy; the single Great Insight from which all good things flow. There also seems to be tension between ‘crucible-as-event’ (‘..For her, the crucible moment came in facing her shame..’) and ‘crucible-as-process’ (‘..a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be..’). I feel like Type A personalities hear all this and feel somehow diminished if they don’t have their own Gandalf/Balrog moment.I know (and I’m sure most people here could likewise think of) a number of highly successful Type B entrepreneurs for whom self-awareness is a routine part of getting on with the job, and who don’t feel like they need the ceremonies or the psychodrama. Jerry- I’d be curious to know if you’ve worked with ‘Padawans’ who thought that way, and how they reacted to the experience?

    1. jerrycolonna

      I love your references David. And by all means, not everyone needs the whack on the side of the head to get on with the business of getting to know oneself. But unfortunately many of us–myself included–do need it.But yes…some folks are precocious and don’t need the touch of insight, the crucible “event”…but I’ll venture it’s partly because they live from a place of self-awareness anyway.

  61. jason wright

    lead (v.1)¬†“to guide,” O.E.¬†l√¶dan¬†“cause to go with one, lead, guide, conduct, carry; sprout forth; bring forth, pass (one’s life),” causative ofli√įan¬†“to travel,” from W.Gmc.¬†*laidjan¬†(cf. O.S.¬†lithan, O.N.¬†li√įa¬†“to go,” O.H.G.¬†ga-lidan¬†“to travel,” Goth.¬†ga-lei√ĺan¬†“to go”), from PIE¬†*leit-¬†“to go forth.” Meaning “to be in first place” is from late 14c. Sense in card playing is from 1670s. Related:¬†Led;¬†leading.Lead-off¬†“commencement, beginning” attested from 1879;¬†lead-in¬†“introduction, opening” is from 1928.lead (n.2)¬†c.1300, “action of leading,” from¬†lead¬†(v.1). Meaning “the front or leading place” is from 1560s. Johnson stigmatized it as “a low, despicable word.” Sense in card-playing is from 1742; in theater, from 1831; in journalism, from 1912; in jazz bands, from 1934.leader¬†O.E.¬†l√¶dere¬†“one who leads,” agent noun from¬†l√¶dan¬†(see¬†lead¬†(v.)). As a title for the head of an authoritarian state, from 1918 (translating¬†f√ľhrer,¬†Duce,¬†caudillo, etc.). Meaning “writing or statement meant to begin a discussion or debate” is late 13c.; in modern use often short for¬†leading article¬†(1807) “opinion piece in a British newspaper” (leader¬†in this sense attested from 1837).leadership¬†1821, “position of a leader,” from¬†leader¬†+¬†-ship. Sense extended by late 19c. to “characteristics necessary to be a leader.”leading (n.2)¬†mid-13c., “a bringing by force,” from prp. of¬†lead¬†(v.1). Meaning “direction, guidance” is from late 14c. As an adjective, “directing, guiding.”…

  62. muratcannoyan

    I’m going to need some time with this post. Thanks Jerry.

    1. jerrycolonna

      Take your time…it took me 48 years to come up with some of this.

  63. FlavioGomes

    Another fine post. The message feels very simillar to Maslow state of self actualization.

  64. Andrew Hoydich

    What’s awesome about this post is that you don’t have to be an¬†entrepreneur, manager, start-up junkie to¬†read it and take something away from it. There are lessons here that apply to who you are as a person, not just who you are as a worker. Stay true to yourself, realize your worthiness, and be the leader of not only your peers, but of yourself as well. All relevant to every person in every spectrum, plane, and dimension.Thanks Jerry!

    1. jerrycolonna

      You’re welcome Andrew…I really try to make things universal.

  65. PMarchetti

    One of the most inspiring and awesome posts on leadership that I’ve come across. As a start-up entrepreneur and first time CEO, I plan to read this at least once a week when things get insane here and remember the leader & manager I want to be.¬†

    1. jerrycolonna

      I’m honored.

  66. Rajil Kapoor

    excellent post jerry – i think “knowing thyself’ is hard to remember deep in the middle of the fire and this is a good reminder. I love the demons example – self awareness is one of the best traits i’ve seen in successful leaders.

    1. jerrycolonna

      Thanks Raj.

  67. jason wright

    The Magic Lantern by Ingmar Bergman. An insight into the creative mind of a tortured achiever. Recommended reading for anyone with self doubt – should sell out quickly then, so do hurry.

  68. Ela Madej

    @jerrycolonna:disqus¬†, many people wrote that already: this post truly is one of the most inspiring pieces I’ve ever read on leadership. It’s honest and¬†concise. The best part is that you’re not at all speaking about tactical things & tips on how to be a leader but about being strategic about one’s own¬†leadership.¬†We all know who we could become, it really is about looking inward. In reality, we find ourselves being strategic when it comes to growing the businesses but at the same time tactical /reactive about our personal growth. We maximize our “operational effectiveness” and focus on doing more faster.One step before our leadership is simply our humanity and there can be no real leadership if the human being in us is screaming to be noticed. That makes so much sense…¬†Our ambitions and the to-do lists / emails just happen to scream even louder and this is why really living those rules is so difficult. I am fighting with that every day, loosing most of the time but at least trying.The best part about this post is that by reading it I did my homework for today ūüėČ Will keep getting back to this post in he future, that’s for sure.(Actually reading avc and making an effort to digest & comment has been recently “that hour a day” for me when I have to ask myself what I believe in, what I can learn from the collective wisdom of this community)

    1. jerrycolonna

      Glad I helped you get your homework done so easily?

  69. Ela Madej

    Btw¬†@jerrycolonna:disqus¬† – you will love this book –… (I am in the middle of reading it).You really don’t have to have any intention to choreograph anything, it’s just very universal. He focuses on the process of creation, self-expression but first and foremost ¬†– ¬†on dealing with one’s own expectations. Good for all entrepreneurs. It’s also relatively short if that makes any difference, I have a feeling that you will love it ;)(I fact, I can send you my copy when I done, how’s that? Could get it back later this year when I am in NYC)

    1. jerrycolonna

      I’d love that Ela…or I can speak it up when I’m in Poland in May.

      1. Ela Madej

        Yay! when are you in Poland? Where in Poland? Do you want to come to Krak√≥w? Let’s talk / plan in advance cause I was actually planning my trip to the Valley/NYC for May ūüėȬ†

        1. jerrycolonna

          I’m slated to be the keynote speaker at the CEED regional conference May 24th and 25th.¬†

          1. Ela Madej

            will email you ūüėČ

  70. Ela Madej

    yes, yes, I know that when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail… but just saw this beautiful low-tech clip (……and thought that the idea of scaling back & scaling down as opposed to always scaling upis very tempting.¬†Businesses in the XXI century might be way more scalable than those from the X century. But people didn’t learn how to scale themselves really well since that time ūüėČ


    Interesting read – genuinely curious to know what those with technical backgrounds think about this blog post¬†…

  72. juegos de mario.

    really good post but I wish it was so easy to realize how we are to change what does not make us progress. but this post helps me a lot and hopefully achieve the objective.thanks

  73. milos

    thanks Bijan

  74. VK

    This post resonated so I thought I wouldover-share.¬†Know the reason why before circumstances forcean answer to the question because in a moment of crisis you may take any portin the storm or fail to use the crisis as an opportunity to end the cycle ofgroundhog day.¬†Nietzsche said: ‚ÄúIf you give me a reason why, Iwill endure any how.‚ÄĚI saw that in the cancer center ‚Äď I volunteer.They say cancer is an existential crisis ‚Äď it forcesan answer to the question why.¬†Why’s change, they may even go away ‚Äď I was the7th employee of a company that had an IPO and a 7 Billion Value,imagine how I felt, the son of the blue collar refugee ‚Äď my why‚Äôs changed andthere eventually was a void. Now I once again realize that I love start-ups.This is probably a classic cycle.¬† I lovethe energy of Silicon Valley and everyone who goes for it and everyone whohelps others make their dreams come true.¬†For Jobs his mission was to bring Beauty in theworld and to enable choice and creativity.These are Why’s that can endure¬† (and can be messianic)¬†¬†

  75. agnes000 -

    thanks bill, Some people need to believe in something to be better

  76. jerrycolonna

    Lao Tsu:”A leader is best where, when the work is done, the people say, “We did this ourselves.’ “

  77. jerrycolonna

    Thanks Tristan

  78. ShanaC

    This was my favorite movie growing up, and Venkman is the best!

  79. jerrycolonna

    Will he pay me?;)Thanks for the kind words Paul

  80. William Mougayar

    We should pay you ūüôā¬†

  81. fredwilson

    this is a barter economy here at AVC. and yes i will pay you.

  82. Carl Rahn Griffith

    There is so much pro bono spirit within this community it is both remarkable and inspirational.

  83. William Mougayar

    Very true!!

  84. JamesHRH

    That is v funny!.

  85. William Mougayar

    There is a lot of social capital invested in the AVC community.

  86. jerrycolonna

    You’ve paid me many times over already.

  87. JamesHRH

    We watched Grease and Back to the Future, with the kids this w/e.When Doc Brown returns from 30 years in the future with a flying car that is powered by a Mr Fusion, he is coming back from……….2015.That did not make me feel like a spring chicken.