Becoming A Boss

I was watching this Charlie Rose interview with Lena Dunham and I was struck by this line:

it’s really intense to be thrust into a managerial position before my time

I have seen this a lot in my business and its always your talent for making things that puts you in this spot. And one of the big challenges is that the "managerial position" (as Lena calls it) is often in conflict with the talent for making things that got your there in the first place.

I am not saying that folks who are talented at making things aren't talented at managing people. I have come to believe that most people can be talented at managing people if they want to be. What I am saying is the time and energy and passion for making things can be all consuming and managing people can also be all consuming. Doing both well is really hard.

When we had our USV CEO summit last fall, we kicked it off by asking each founder/CEO to open with the one thing they had learned the hard way during the year. The recurring theme was that they had to let the people they hired do the work even though they wanted to jump in and do it themselves. And as they are all going around the room telling this story over and over, I am thinking "and I want you to jump in and do the work too". Because these are the people who made the thing that got us to invest, the thing that we fell in love with, the thing we believe is big enough to build a business around.

One of my favorite stories is about an entrepreneur I visited in his office away from the office. That he had one is in and of itself is telling. He was playing his acoustic guitar and singing when I arrived and I said "wow. I didn't realize you were such a talented musician". He said, "I am an artist and the most impactful art that my generation can make is websites but I see myself first and foremost as an artist." And I thought, "well it is a shame that you can't hang a website on a wall and move on to the next one."

There are a number of ways to handle this conflict that arises between the maker in you and the manager in you.

Many artists stick to making and hire a manager to focus on their business. Artists that build websites and mobile apps can do that too. In a perfect world, the manager and the maker become partners and operate the enterprise as a duo connected at the hip. The Gotham Gal and I once watched a movie about Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti and I was struck at how well defined their two roles were in their business endeavors.

You can devote yourself totally and completely to the manager role and hire people to lead the making effort. That is what many of the founder and CEOs in our portfolio have chosen to do, at least in theory. As our CEO Summit discussion pointed out, that approach is riddled with tension and conflict because makers want to make at their core and being a hired maker working for a founder/CEO maker isn't a party. It can work but it will never work perfectly.

The third way is to keep your hands in both efforts. To be both the maker and the manager. The challenge with that approach is you have two full time jobs and I have not seen many who can do both as well as they need to be done. Some choose to hire leaders below them to lead the making and managing teams but then keep ultimate responsibility for both. That can work, but defining when you plan to step in and make the calls and when you won't is tricky.

I cannot and will not recommend one of these approaches over the other. Each founder/CEO has to figure out what will work best for him or her and then build the team around them appropriately. As always, the hires are critical. Some hired leaders can deal with a founder who drops in on the decision making process better than others.  If you are the meddling kind, you should find someone who can handle meddling well. But understand that nobody handles meddling exceptionally well. Pick your battles carefully.

What I can recommend is that you stare at the elephant in the room, name it, and deal with it. The maker/manager conflict sits at the heart of many of the development challenges that founder/CEOs deal with as they scale their companies and scale themselves. Conquering it is possibly your greatest opportunity and will lead to your biggest success.


Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    “overseer,” 1640s, American English, from Dutch baas “a master,” Middle Dutch baes, of obscure origin. If original sense was “uncle,” perhaps it is related to Old High German basa “aunt,” but some sources discount this theory. The Dutch form baas is attested in English from 1620s as the standard title of a Dutch ship’s captain. The word’s popularity in U.S. may reflect egalitarian avoidance of master (n.) as well as the need to distinguish slave from free labor.n.b. copied & pasted;

    1. fredwilson

      the word “boss” ?

      1. jason wright


      2. Aviah Laor

        yiddish. “The owner”

        1. ShanaC

          hebrew not yiddish – ba’al most likely.

          1. Aviah Laor

            בעל הביתbut in yiddish accentbaa’l haboth >> boss

          2. Aviah Laor

            you see, women are בעלבוסטהbut men are bosses

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Is leader a better word? 🙂

      1. fredwilson

        leader is a better word. i just liked the alliteration of becoming a boss.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          I just read alliteration as alienation of becoming a boss. :PFreudian slip I suppose..If you’re a bad boss I can imagine you’ll be alienated, not a good place to be if you are wanting to keep a company together, people excited and thriving.

          1. fredwilson

            being a boss is incredibly lonely, even if you are a good one

          2. Paul Sanwald

            this is a really insightful point, I definitely noticed a shift in social dynamics when I shifted from being mostly a developer to someone with direct reports

          3. jason wright

            i couldn’t work *for* a ‘boss’ – i have a problem with authority figures. i’ve lost at least two jobs because of this.i could work *with* a ‘leader’.

        2. jason wright

          “Learning To Lead”

          1. fredwilson

            Where were you when I needed you this morning? 😉

          2. jason wright

            i was channeling :-)zzzzzzzzzen master say “empty mind and tune in”

        3. JimHirshfield

          First reaction, especially after guitar reference, was *becoming* the Boss (as in the video of this guy trying to become that famous Boss from Jersey)…

    3. kidmercury

      i can’t stand the word boss. i avoid it all costs and use the word supervisor instead. i equate boss with a master/slave relationship.

      1. Patrick Campi

        In street slang “boss” is also a term of simple respect which, it seems, has grown out of the prison system. And I agree, I have discouraged former employees from calling me boss.

      2. bernardlunn

        When I was first called boss it was weird. It was in America, nobody called me that in UK. I got used to it, but it mostly grated.

  2. John Revay

    Assuming “Maker” does not always need to be the actual engineer/developer….assuming he/she could be the product person – the one w/ the vision who does not or can not code per se.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, the maker is the person who has the thing in his or her head and leads the making of it. lena doesn’t write the entire show or play every part. but she is the maker of Girls

  3. Matt A. Myers

    I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to put myself into managing some people part-time (in real life), and I learned a lot just from the 4 or 5 different situations of different lengths they lasted. I quite enjoyed it – you learn a lot about people, how people work, react, etc.. I haven’t been exposed to all personality types though – I’m sure those days will come.Relating to guiding/managing people is in part why I wanted to start teaching yoga, to get better and more comfortable holding a space, paying attention to details in a group and one-on-one, feeling confident in such a space; It’s called a teaching practice, just like you have a yoga practice – and so you can forever learn more and more.I’ve actually gotten enough off of my plate now and in a comfortable enough place where I’m teaching my first yoga class on February 10th! A lot of friends will be there, peers and yoga mentors / teachers that I’ve had over the years. I’m excited – it’s going to be so fun! :)Have been wanting to teach for well over a year now, so will be a big milestone and relief too.

  4. William Mougayar

    Management is an art. There is little science to it, but it takes some practice to get that horse sense that only comes with experience. There are basics, but the rest is practice. The earlier you get into it, the better you get at it. I became a manager of people at age 27, and inherited someone in his 50’s who I had to fire 6 months later. You learn constantly being a manager.The maker part comes in the new frontier of doing new things. Since the manager is the one that is supposed to see things that others don’t, they can choose to be the pioneers to try something new, then delegate it to others. But sometimes they just define it and hire others to do it.Being a leader and a manager are not the same thing. Some CEOs are both, some are not.The hardest thing being manager is to delegate. But it’s also the easiest thing once you get the hang of it.

    1. awaldstein

      With some exceptions you can teach most talented people to be good managers.With almost no exception can you teach someone without the chutzpah and dna of a leader to inspire and lead.

      1. William Mougayar

        Agreed. You can get a lot more out of people by leading and inspiring them, rather than managing them. But when they deviate from the goals, then you need to manage them.

        1. awaldstein

          Managing is too often used as a blanket term. It just isn’t.Managing your VP and managing the 100 people in your customer service center who work off of pop screens and touch the customers directly are different.Basic human respect and acknowledgement apply in both of course. Levels of decision making impact management and those who manage the bullpen can’t necessarily manage the board and visa versa.

          1. pointsnfigures

            I might disagree with this. The military trains terrific leaders. They have a system. There are good leaders and bad leaders, but there is certainly a leadership training path one can take. Some business schools teach classes about leadership. Mike Gibbs, http://faculty.chicagobooth… teaches a tremendous class on personnel. Wrote a book about it that quantifies decision making for firms. The Risky Hire is one concept. Ron Burt also teaches a tremendous class on styles of leadership. Do you lead for brokerage or closure? Depends on the company and the strategic vision of the company. Obviously a huge topic that is broader than Fred’s post. But, there is significant academic research devoted to leadership.

          2. jason wright

            this is civil society. insubordination is not codified behavior.few generals die on the battlefield.

          3. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Indeed. Am sure JLM may well know the proper quote, but one wartime one that has always really resonated with me is: “Big thumbs on little maps means lots of trouble for the chaps.” … or something like that, but am sure you get the meaning.

          4. Anne Libby

            But it’s not cut and dried, in the US at least. I’ve talked with Marines who describe issues about how millenials face their work — very similar to what Corporate America is seeing. The military leader’s work isn’t as simple as giving an order and having people follow it.

          5. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Trouble is, most of society is still command-and-control based whilst life is increasingly peer-to-peer.

          6. fredwilson

            What a great line Carl!

          7. pointsnfigures

            Agree that life is peer to peer. Corporations can be both, depending. I think to survive(and thrive) in this day and age, it’s important to understand Coase and put those principles into HR.

          8. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Thank you for reminding me of that oft forgotten about chap – great stuff – always loved the quote:”If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.”

          9. Matt A. Myers

            Ahhh – won’t it be nice when all of society actually value deepening relationships with others..

          10. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Which is why it’s so nice of Facebook to place so much ongoing emphasis on our Timeline and the searching thereof – screw your friends, what about the brands you and they like!? ;-)Anyone else here reading @om’s live Tweets from the Facebook ‘launch’? Very funny and very well observed; as one would expect of Mr Om.

          11. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed! Or about the game suggestions that others are playing – which originally I hide from my newsfeed, which now there is no longer a way to hide them! How exciting!I will have to look at @om’s Tweets.. Most of Facebook’s behaviour is like they are ignoring the way the rest of the world is reacting, acting with their fingers plugging their ears and screaming ‘NANANANANANANANANA I CAN’T HEAR YOU’ – and hope we won’t notice what they’re doing..

          12. JLM

            .Lot of wisdom in that comment.Well played..

          13. awaldstein

            Fine to disagree.I never was in the military nor went to business school but have built many teams, a number of companies, made many mistakes and done some things right.I’m a believer in doing and learning. I approach the world from the ground and market and human dynamics perspective up. Never the theory or the academic view down.I read lots. But I learn from and act from my own filters and experience. That’s what I rely on and where my personal and professional value is grounded.

          14. pointsnfigures

            Agree with doing and learning. At a young age, you need a great mentor for leadership. Who was your mentor at a young age? They influence your style a lot at an older age. I know my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leadership. I am working on my weaknesses.Some of those stem from the household that you grew up in as well.

          15. awaldstein

            30% of my work is mentoring to some degree.My mentors, I’ll jump back later. They start with Steve Mayer from Atari and honestly, they evolved into working heroes as friends more than mentors per se.

          16. pointsnfigures

            That’s cool when that happens. Since I was a trader on the floor, mentorship was pretty hard to come by. Hypercompetitive. Really more like Gladiators than anything else. Never saw a more dog eat dog business and I did it for 25 years. Have a few friends, but a tremendous amount of stories. Can be bribed with bourbon or good red wine!

          17. LE

            “I never was in the military nor went to business school”Let me assure you as someone that went to Wharton that I learned 2% of what I know there and 98% in the real world. In fact how I got into that school is a lesson in what I learned before even going to college. (Not knocking the school it was a great experience and I am glad I went but for other reasons. Not to mention it was a good value back in the day as well).

          18. William Mougayar

            I should have said Coaching. Coaching people is what makes you help them to get peak performance.

          19. pointsnfigures

            check out The Junto Institute with Raman Chadha. Exactly that.

          20. ShanaC

            you’d be surprised how often people forget the respect part thogh

        2. DavesBlend

          Peer to Peer seems to align with Servant Leadership but it can be a tough style to execute on. I would also suggest that management is highly contextual. The more expertise in a role, the less command and control. But the same person can require (and/or welcome) more directed management until they come up to speed on a new function or activity.

    2. FlavioGomes

      I find the single best trait of a good manager is one who takes great measurements.The single best trait of leader is one who clearly knows, and has the courage to be the first, to jump on a grenade.

    3. bernardlunn

      i found firing the hardest thing. i procrastinated too much on that score.

  5. awaldstein

    There’s an old saying in Hollywood that every studio exec knows that one day they will walk into the office and get fired. That’s the hired leader dilemma.I’ve been a hired leader often. For the most brilliant, most difficult and sometime, quite wonderful bosses.And all CEOs meddle as they should. Some are in your face and can’t let go and shouldn’t have hired you. Some stand back and watch you sink or swim. Some are your ‘board’ if you will and partner in a formal fashion.It’s never been perfect (no such thing) but it stumbles forward best when you realize that you need to partner up and that you don’t need to be friends with your boss but you’d best be inspired by them.And of course, it’s a lot more perfect when the business is succeeding.

    1. karen_e

      Yeah {groan} … I’ve been there. Everywhere you’re describing.

      1. awaldstein

        I was thinking of you when I wrote this.Hero and bum are part of the continuum of the hired gun. I still get strong references from people that I worked for that fizzled over time but the dynamics are just human.

        1. karen_e

          Funny thing, I woke up this morning thinking of reaching out to a couple of people I worked with ten years ago in order to make amends. Even though we separated in a huff, I learned a lot from them. Maybe I’ll write the AA for Marketers book.

          1. awaldstein

            Getting a new account and I know they called a well known CEO that I worked for in this field 10 years ago.Your past at it’s best should pave the way for the future.

  6. Barry Nolan

    My advice is to focus on your strengths, not on your weaknesses. Work to the opportunity to do what you do best every day.If you are an exceptional creator but a lousy at day-to-day operator, endless toil will raise your operations skills to merely average and you will fail. Whereas all your effort on creating may lead to something exceptional. You naturally gravitate to what you love – you cannot deny that gravity.Be aware of your weaknesses, and hire to them. Honesty and coaching are key to this journey

    1. fredwilson

      Great advice

    2. Robert Holtz

      That’s good stuff right there.^^

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Please realize though too that you can improve yourself in different areas, and the only way to do that is put yourself in those unfamiliar situations and learn from them.To be a very good leader I think you have to have the faculties to learn and evolve yourself in whatever situations you come into – and luckily you don’t need to be good at all of it to start leading, and you can figure out where you need support, either for doing or to learn from.”The best way to get something done is to start.”

    4. ShanaC

      you never know until you try though. Some people tend to avoid finding out if they are good at other things than what they know

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Critical part to this is enjoying challenge – or at minimum finding a way / methods to cope with it.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I believe that in this case a restlessness will at some point set in that will motivate the person to ask — what next or what else? I don’t think we should ignore restlessness. It is a signal. It makes us open to new possibilities.

        1. ShanaC

          of course. Some people train themselves to ignore restlessness in favor of lots of patience

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Patience or complacency? Yes, there is some restlessness that needs to be redirected but not necessarily ignored. The decision made in response to the restlessness may then require patience. For instance, if I grew restless in my marriage, this would not be a signal to me that I needed to change my marital status, but that I needed to do something different within my marriage – or to change myself in some way – which would probably require patience. But the restlessness would have been a signal that something needed changing. Restlessness doesn’t tell you what needs changing. It is merely a signal. Complacency ignores the signal.

    5. JamesHRH

      Your weak areas must be improved to the point that they are not deficiencies.Personality plays a big role in the decision to ‘play to your strengths’. JLM’s strength is leadership. How would someone like that play to that strength?

      1. Barry Nolan

        Minimum viable weaknesses.

        1. JamesHRH


    6. awaldstein

      Hire to your weaknesses is as golden a rule as there is. Nicely said!

      1. JamesHRH

        So many people rehire themselves.

    7. Donna Brewington White

      Self-awareness is one of the greatest assets to good hiring. I am helping someone find a co-founder and the fact that they have been coached by @0d292d5bb89498874725f28d33c5cdad:disqus is very apparent! This person is very clear and it is an uber clean process.Edit: Wait — is the Jerry Colonna just referenced the same as the one I intended? — this one: http://www.themonsterinyour… Needs a Disqus fix.

      1. ShanaC

        looks to be his alternate. jerry?

  7. Tom Labus

    If you expect your company to grow quickly you need to become a manager regardless what role you choose. Once you cross the line to management it is essential the all the “makers” know and understand the way you perceive what quality work means and integrity of effort. This usually needs to be reinforced and defined over time but it does create an atmosphere of work quality that can satisfy your makers itch.

    1. Anne Libby

      You’re still “making,” with people. Some of my most joyful experiences at work have been when other people got something up and running — themselves.

      1. fredwilson

        That’s a great point Anne

      2. awaldstein

        Once you define managing as team building it all falls together in a different way.

      3. Tom Labus

        That’s the essence and joy of management.

        1. Anne Libby


  8. William Mougayar

    I’m fascinated by the differences between traditional management in the sense of what they teach you in MBAs and as practiced in large companies, versus what really happens in smaller startups.The larger the company, the more management you need. But in smaller startups, there are very few management-only roles. You’ve got to lead, manage and do stuff.Startups grow in dog years, and so should the people in them. If you don’t, whether you’re doing, managing or leading, you’ll get left behind.

    1. Anne Libby

      With great respect to my management profs, you can’t learn to manage in school. You can only learn by doing, by having the physical experience — by making.

      1. Charlie Crystle

        right on

      2. William Mougayar

        True. You can learn sound “management principles”, but managing people is a practice sport.

        1. Anne Libby

          And practice, and practice, and practice!

        2. ShanaC

          i think you can learn some basics. But those basics you learn in kindergarden (like be nice, share)

      3. Carl Rahn Griffith

        Very true, Anne. One of the biggest problems we have is that management and HR (et al) have become subset ‘professions’ within a business, at the expense of common-sense. Often they just lead to a self-justified detachment from empathy and leadership/teamwork.

        1. Anne Libby

          Yes. I don’t have enough words this morning (or perhaps enough coffee, or time) to articulate how I feel about the fact that one can get a university degree in “HR.”

          1. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol. Ditto, and it’s well past noon here! Best to not even get started on that rather emotive topic. As soon as I see a startup has a HR person/department I become very concerned at how they will develop, unless they are very careful…That’s not to say there is not a need for a HR function – sure, things such as payroll/holidays and employee/employer issues need a single point of contact, but when the HR remit goes far beyond the background plumbing of a company, well…

          2. Anne Libby

            Give me an HR professional who has worked as a manager, and walked in the shoes of the people they support! (I’ve had the privilege of working with some fantastic HR people.)

        2. Aviah Laor

          Realy good definition for “Government”

    2. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      I like the part about dog years. I was just explaining to a friend over the weekend that a 6 month experience at a startup is worth a few years in a large company.

    3. panterosa,

      Steve Blank spends a fair amount of time differentiating big company and startup roles in his Udacity course, which I’m currently taking as homework for an accelerator. Having only worked in startup or small businesses, I’m glad not to have the siloing of big co’s, but that then proves difficult for me as a maker to keep “maker’s hours” vs “manager’s hours” as Brad Feld laid out in a post which struck home with me like a thunderbolt.

      1. William Mougayar

        Exactly. He says that management as it’s being taught today is still 100 years old, and a startup is not a small version of a big company.

  9. JimHirshfield

    Every startup office needs a guitar.#culture

    1. pointsnfigures

      But not a ping pong table

      1. JimHirshfield

        Not unless it’s in a sound-proof room. Too noisy.

        1. panterosa,

          ping-pom, with pom poms? they are very quiet…

          1. JimHirshfield

            ping-pom? that’s a thing?

          2. panterosa,

            I want it to be……

          3. JimHirshfield


    2. Charlie Crystle

      I’ve always had one nearby. Resets the brain when I hit the wall.

      1. kidmercury

        totally. in fact i should go back and list it in the productivity hack thread from friday. the most efficient way to reset/recharge in my opinion.

        1. JimHirshfield

          “productivity hack” +1 cc @charliecrystle:disqus

          1. Charlie Crystle


  10. FGIII

    Your greatest strength almost always becomes your greatest weakness. If you are a great maker of things your going to be a marginal leader, and great leaders are not good at making things. The sooner a manager learns this the better for the business and the people in it.

  11. SallyBroom

    Ha! I was re-reading your ‘What a CEO does’ series just this morning with these exact issues in mind, what a weird coincidence :)”Each founder/CEO has to figure out what will work best for him or her and then build the team around them appropriately.” It’s funny, but in all this time I’ve never received that advice and yet I think it might be some of the most valuable.To know it’s ok to be either or both, and that your job is to figure that out then build your team accordingly, is liberating. I would reckon that most new/young leaders initially think they have to be a certain way or type. They (we) spend (waste) a lot of time and energy trying to be someone they’re not. I think that’s a big issue early on.

    1. Anne Libby

      The authority we give to the “boss” role is endlessly fascinating to me. It’s a powerful archetype, in American culture, at least.And you’re exactly right: it’s a waste of time and energy to be what we’re not.

    2. fredwilson

      i am glad you found this valuable Sallyit’s all because of Jessica because she got me into Girls and that is why I watched the interview and that prompted this post

      1. SallyBroom

        Yeah Jessica introduced most of London to Girls too 🙂 Pure genius and seems to appeal to everyone on some level

  12. pointsnfigures

    My friend Raman Chadha started… in Chicago. This year is his first class. What Fred identified is a massive pain point in entrepreneurship. In fact, angels sometimes do have to get their hands dirty and step in to help companies out. VCs can install their own leadership team, and often don’t have that problem. If you want to enroll a company in a Junto Class, contact Raman. He also blogs at Ramanations.

  13. JimHirshfield

    As I tell my kids, it’s not your homework if I do it. I’ll help you, but you have to do it.

    1. fredwilson

      man, that is so true.

    2. laurie kalmanson

      i’ve been to fourth grade. yes. this. so much.

      1. JimHirshfield


      2. Donna Brewington White

        I’m on my fourth and final round of sixth grade (not counting my own stint). College was easier.

        1. laurie kalmanson


    3. Matt A. Myers

      Can you remind me of this when I have kids? 😛

      1. JimHirshfield

        Oh, I don’t think you’ll need reminding. It’s one of those revelations that everyone has when your kid hits a brick wall of frustration and exhaustion.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Hehe. Okay. Good to know.. Thanks. 🙂

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Or when they become teenagers. The best and worst thing that happened to my younger kids is when the oldest became a teenager. Suddenly, we began revisiting our approach to parenthood. Since I was also an oldest and therefore the “practice child” I don’t feel too guilty.

          1. JLM

            .The Practice Child, so damn true. Haha.Well played!.

          2. JLM

            .The cruelest joke ever played on a parent — early admission to college.When boys are admitted in October, the balance of high school is like running a penal colony where all the inmates have an escape key..

          3. Donna Brewington White

            No, I’ll tell you the cruelest joke. My son has decided to go to culinary school after seven years of (expensive!) college prep schools and scoring 31 (97th P) on the ACT without even half trying — seriously– he didn’t study for it at all and didn’t sleep the night before! Colleges are flooding our mailbox.Was he supposed to take me seriously when I said “do what you love”?I think I must be raising an entrepreneur.

          4. JLM

            .This is where parenting becomes very tough as I would support doing both. Business school and culinary school. Complementary outcomes.Did you get my email>JLM.

          5. William Mougayar

            That’s not a joke. If he is good, he can become a star chef & be very successful at it. What school is he going to? Prep for sending him to France to do a non-paid summer internship at a Michelin star resto 🙂

          6. Donna Brewington White

            Looking seriously at Le Cordon Bleu. Thanks, William. I’m starting to feel better about this.

          7. ShanaC

            I think you should also look at the CIA

          8. William Mougayar

            He will be a smart chef. A very successful chef-owner friend of mine once told me “a restaurant is a business … that serves food.”

          9. ShanaC

            Actually, there was a guy in my high school who dropped out of Columbia to become a chef. he now teaches at the FCI.Sometimes I regret going to college. I wanted to be a makeup artist growing up. If he is really that good, he’ll succeed and be a nice business owner.

          10. JimHirshfield

            “…revisiting our approach to parenthood.”That sounds like a euphemism for something I don’t want to know!!

    4. Tyler Hayes

      The best teachers I ever had were essentially hard-ass parents. Basically the same as good parents: empathic, understanding, patient, forgiving. But just a little bit less of each of those and a little bit more: deadlines.Which I loved. I loved both sides of it, the parents and the teachers.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Hmm, you never struck me as the tough love type.

    5. JLM

      .Mine are all raised and it is a joy now to be their blood relative. Not always so.When I used to help them with their homework, I used to confiscate the work papers.I would work through some math problem, show them how it was to work, go over the principles as many times as they wanted, let them take notes and THEN destroy the work papers.To this day, they rag me about it but they always said it made them learn the subject..

      1. JimHirshfield

        Nice strategy!

      2. ShanaC

        why did you destroy the work papers?

        1. JLM

          .So they had to do the work themselves and not just copy the work papers..

    6. LE

      Exactly. And you can’t learn to overcome adversity if you don’t struggle for hours and hours trying to figure things out without even hints.That is why people sometimes who aren’t scholars do so well. Things don’t come easy to them and they have to spend extra time and learn the art of figuring things out even if it takes them all day. In a sense I feel that people (young and old) today with instant easy answers will not have the same advantage that I did trying to figure things out with so little info available or anyone to help. Nor will they have the satisfaction of spending so many hours and having an aha moment after coming to the solution.

      1. Jean-Marc Liotier

        Don’t worry – even in fields such as information technology where feedback is instant and information plentiful, even mundane problems can be vexing at time and require much exploration, gathering, rumination and discarding non-viable solutions before having something good emerge. I don’t seen the thrill of solution finding going away anywhere anytime soon… All that is required is an inquiring mind.

      2. JimHirshfield

        I hope you’re wrong and that the kids have lots of aha moments, even if much information is easier to find.

  14. Charlie Crystle

    Fortunately I’m not quite good enough of a maker, but I’ve always carried the torch for the product and tried to set principles up front around the product and customer experience. Those evolve too, of course.But the expectations are guided up front and intervention isn’t meddling as much as it is keeping things on track. Part of those expectations should be at a minimum participating (or leading) design sessions, product strategies, etc. Leave fingerprints.More broadly I say this a lot: there’s high-value and low-value applications of your time. These change depending on the phase of the company, and sometimes they’re unavoidable, but learning what that is makes a huge difference.Hopefully the high-value stuff is the stuff you love, because there’s nothing worse than being full-time on high-value stuff that you hate, while others are dancing away on what you love, and differently from your values and vision.

    1. panterosa,

      I love the high value and low value applications of time description. As the founder I have to split my time between the high value I bring to making and the necessary relationship building the products need. I’ve made enough progress to be able to hand over the managing now, in the many aspects.I was quite interested in Brad Feld’s recent post on who owns your UX philosophy. I have owned it fiercely, and that’s high value app of my time. It does take time away from having to run everything until I can hand it over to someone who manages better than I do.

      1. Charlie Crystle

        it’s a tough balance, especially if you’re the maker/creative driver

        1. panterosa,

          It really tough Charlie, and for a while I was under the illusion that I wasn’t up to it. But since it became a declared issue I now see I have been managing as best I could. The schedule of maker’s hours and manager’s hours is not compatible.The hardest part is when I do have real interest in the other part of the work (the managing), for me that is keeping up with AVC and some other biz reading. I love AVC and spend a lot of time as a fly on the wall without commenting, simply because I need to keep making, or keep managing things which I’d rather not.

          1. JLM

            .There are many things we are not “up to” — the FIRST time.The lesson of life is to be able to coach yourself through those situations, take your ball home and come back the next day and give it all a big kick.In some endeavors, it is almost de reigueur to fail for a short period of time as that gate must be passed through before you can achieve mastery.The mastery being built on the foundation of the failures.It is like waterboarding success out of yourself.Anyone who has ever learned to snowboard knows exactly what I am talking about..

          2. panterosa,

            I guess I have waterboarded success out of myself as a first timer. I owned commercial property on my own after having done so with family. I tortured myself all the way to the pay window on that property to a successful exit. And it was so dull it was torturous.I don’t snowboard, nor do I expect to since I’m not a ski fan, nor do I like speed. I did however grow up getting back on the balance beam endlessly. I think I was chosen by my coach for the team balance beam lead since it’s the hardest and I had the most determination and grit. I had never thought of it that way until now.

          3. LE

            “Anyone who has ever learned to snowboard knows exactly what I am talking about.”You might want to try and fly an RC Model Helicopter, gas powered, back in the 1980’s, when there were no gyros, bad radios, and if you crashed you had to rebuild it (no “ready to fly” like today). It’s not like bowling, skiing etc. You spend weeks building the thing and in the process of learning (without anyone to help you at all) you will crash and have to rebuild on the third tankful of gas. The tension is immense. And they cost +-$2000 in 80’s dollars. Today it’s boring by comparison. They literally fly themselves. It’s so easy there is no fun in it. Nothing like the smell of that gas powered chopper and some pain in the ass bystander annoyingly watching and asking you stupid questions like “how high does that thing go”.

      2. laurie kalmanson

        how it looks/feels/works to the user *is* what it does …

        1. Anne Libby

          True of a manager’s UI/UX, too!

          1. laurie kalmanson

            so true. also, parenting. this could be a unified theory of everything.

          2. Anne Libby


          3. Charlie Crystle

            that’s exactly it–creating a great experience for the team. Anyone can buy drinks at the end of the day. Creating a place where people love working, are empowered, take initiative, make great things, and have a real sense of mission, that’s hard. I’ve had mixed results but when it’s working, it’s great

          4. Anne Libby

            Yes. Lead with relationship. (Ping pong table and guitars are props.)

          5. LE

            Never understood the game stuff. If you’re in a zone why would you stop to play ping pong? If your not in a zone does a game get you in it? I would think a pep talk, sort of a verbal revving up would work much better.

      3. Matt A. Myers

        It doesn’t take away time — it simply takes longer to do everything (and so gives you more to do if you plan to get to all of it at some point – the important stuff anyway..)!

        1. panterosa,

          You are right – the clarification is it takes away from my time “in the now” or this week to get things done, and so makes the whole process slower.It took me a year longer to reach a combo of milestones I set out to reach and do stuff that came up. Halfway thru my second year, this summer, I was very frustrated. In the last 6 months I have met quite a few people who were blown away by my progress as a sole founder. So I guess it’s all perspective and patience.Knowing you are on the right track in these times is not to be underrated – it is what helps you not give up, just change the timetable.

          1. ShanaC

            ame. i’m finally where i wanted to be six months ago. If anything this taught me patience

          2. panterosa,

            Shana, I wonder if creating milestones should have more discussion in this context.Also, disqus is psycho today. It started typing my reply to you backwards……….

          3. Matt A. Myers

            I love and hate milestones. They’re nice as a reflection point, and they are good initially to help set / define your direction, though it gets a bit messy when trying to prioritize. The milestones I like the most and am most comfortable with are the holistic ones that form. “Proof of concept” is a milestone I like, though that comes with many other little pieces prior to it – but if you’ve reached “proof of concept” then all of that work prior for it to happen, has happened. Focusing on the small pieces pulls me too far away from where I am going.

          4. Matt A. Myers

            Hehe. I don’t think people are going to believe me that I’ve done the amount of work I have ‘behind the scenes.’ Mind you, they’ll only see the more presentable stuff too.I hear you on all of what you said. I wouldn’t feel confident moving forward – things too uncertain – if I I didn’t come to an understanding that I’m facing the right direction (and all I need to do is keep walking). Prioritizing and time allowance for space is underrated too. Roughly 2 1/2 years ago I dedicated/committed, told myself that if in 3 years my projects weren’t on their way to towards where I want then I would stop business and just become a full-time yoga instructor and offer other complementary services; This is in part why I did my teacher training two summers ago – part of my backup plan to feel secure about the future with having options, not all my eggs in one basket. But here I am, the end of April (28th is my birthday) it will be at 3 years – and I should reflect and feel this out more, though logically I am working on reaching the tipping point — I just need to reflect to let my emotions match it, maybe let myself feel some pride.

          5. JLM

            .Do not be so hard on yourself. At 28, you are still working through the instruction manual on you. Be patient..

          6. Matt A. Myers

            29, soon to be 30! That’s a single decade away from 40!!And thank you for bringing this up / the reminder, very true.

          7. Donna Brewington White

            Stop! You are making me feel old.

          8. Matt A. Myers

            Hehe. It’s how young you feel inside that matters. 🙂

          9. LE

            Wait until you start pulling muscles when you get older.

          10. Matt A. Myers

            I do quite a lot of yoga — I don’t see that really happening. 😉

          11. Donna Brewington White

            That doesn’t help, either. At least not today.

          12. Matt A. Myers

            Yoga and meditation? 🙂

          13. LE

            “That’s a single decade away from 40!!”Kinda goes like this.30 no big deal31 no big dealActually, under 34 no big deal.Approach 35 a little concerned.36 – still ok feel like it’s not going to happen. (Same happens when you have kids it’s like they will never grow up and always be cute and portable.)38 – realization you are almost 40, start to get prepared for that.40 – oh shit you’re 40.41- Great! Now you’re just glad you have so many years until you’re 50. (In other words the process re-started).The other thing is sibling age reversal paradox. Older sibling – big deal when younger. But when they get older they wish they were the youngest child.

          14. Matt A. Myers

            I keep forgetting I’m 29. And I actually feel like I am getting younger, mainly because of getting healthier through my yoga practice; Not just physical asanas, though also working on the other branches of yoga (meditation, breathing, self-study .. being a few more).Most of my any other concern that can come up is when I think whether I’ll be where I want to be in life, if I’ll reach it.I’ll report back when I’m 40 and 50. 😉

          15. Matt A. Myers

            How young are you if you don’t mind me asking? 🙂

          16. LE

            “At 28, you are still working”Matt’s “about” on his blog says “I’ve been involved in technology for 18 years.”So Matt started when he was 10.It’s funny that when you are young you are quite willing to throw out a number like that and it’s a positive you’re not worried that it will make you seem older. After all, while there is a picture of Matt on his page you don’t know exactly how old he is or when the picture was taken. Someone could think, gasp, he’s 38! And that doesn’t bother him! I on the other hand would rather not throw around any number that points to my age and even more importantly a number that could be misinterpreted and make me seem even older!

          17. Donna Brewington White

            Great advice, Panterosa, dear.

    2. fredwilson

      That last part is something I’ve seen and I see

      1. Charlie Crystle

        I’ve experienced it.

        1. fredwilson


          1. Charlie Crystle


  15. panterosa,

    Wow – So Timely!! I talk to my first candidate for managing my business today. I look forward to reading all the comments.I am a maker, an artist, a designer. I can get by in the manager’s world, having done so before, but it is unhappy work for me, and I find it dull. My value creation and passion are in making, I am the content engine, and I’m quite prolific. Having the last 2 years starting a startup I have struggled to do both, I have “gotten out of the building”, and all that. It is far easier or me to manage others than for others to replace my making, and vision.I am lucky to have an accelerator team manage before the actual hiring in a few months. I hope to find a Pierre Berge, the Giancarlo Giammetti to YSL. In the meantime I am going to work on leading and delegating.What are the most avoidable mistakes makers make in hiring managers?

  16. Jeffrey Hartmann

    This is absolutely powerful advice Fred, thank you. I am a maker and a manager, and doing things this way definitely has its disadvantages. I do think this sort of dual role can very powerful as well. It is all in how you approach things. For other people wanting to do things this way, my advice would be to take a hard look at a couple of things:1. What kind of support can your team provide to you so you can create the most value for your business. Know your team intimately and what they can and can not do.2. You always have to focus more on one aspect of yourself then the other, choose the path that makes the most sense for you personally and the business. Try to really stick to it so your team knows what to expect, and let them in on the decision process if you decide you want to change things up. Being predictable is key here.3. Always be willing to reevaluate continuously. Remember you are only one person and you can’t do everything. Hire people who complement your skill set and trust them. When they aren’t playing the ‘music’ the way you would, stop and listen to it before you decide its not what you want. Some of the best Jazz music is organic and unique, don’t discount your teams ability to lay down a different beat or change the tempo. It can be equally as beautiful as what you would make on your own, and it might even be many times better. Different isn’t always worse, its just different.-Jeff

    1. Anne Libby

      And have support outside your business. @charliecrystle:disqus wrote about what they’re doing in Lancaster at his blog the other day, I’d call it peer mentoring:http://diggingintwo.blogspo

      1. Jeffrey Hartmann

        This is so important as well. Here in Oklahoma, I founded a startup coffee along with some other local startup founders. We are a young community, but we are already providing significant value to each other. If you have something like this in your neck of the woods, join in. If not start one, you will be amazed how helpful fellow entrepreneurs can be to each other.

        1. fredwilson

          That is so key

        2. BillMcNeely

          Read Chapter 7 of @bfeld ‘s book Startup Communties for more on activities and events revolving around Startup Communties.

        3. Matt A. Myers

          The ones that get started here just start attracting marketers / sales people who try to upsell services. Maybe the people leading them just aren’t curating and enforcing rules of some sort..

          1. Jeffrey Hartmann

            So far we are following advice from Brad Feld, he came and gave a talk to our community and it was really helpful. Read his book on the subject or search on youtube for one of his talks about it. Follow his Boulder Thesis, it is working for us so far.We are all inclusive and allow anyone to join the community, but we will self police as needed if someone wants to take the floor and has been purposely abusing that privilege for their own gain. While I started the event, I make sure that everyone feels joint ownership and responsibility for it. I state at every meeting that it is our meetup, not my meetup. I think this one fact really helps a great deal in filtering out bad behavior. No one wants something they own to suck.Anyone can propose a meeting, and everyone’s feedback is appreciated and incorporated. Startup communities are best managed as networks, and I think people tend to ignore the bad actors and they generally get bored quickly. Thankfully we have had a very positive experience in OKC so far.

        4. LE

          “I founded a startup coffee along”What’s a “startup coffee”. Do you mean you started a coffee shop where startups meet? Or?

          1. Jeffrey Hartmann

            This is a concept that is discussed in the Activities and Events chapter of Feld’s Startup Communities book, you should check out his book for a more in depth description. Look at page 83 at Boulder Open Coffee Club.The short description though is that it is a networking event where local startup entrepreneur’s, angel investors, vc’s and other entities involved in the startup community come together and talk about news, pitch in a safe environment, give honest feedback and advice to each other, and generally mingle and connect with like minded individuals. We have a very gracious local accelerator who lets me use their space, and I spend a few hours brewing industrial quantities of coffee and either have my wife do some baking or buy some goodies from store to bring. Many people have these sorts of events though at a local coffee house, and just have everyone show up. It is an easy thing to start without too much of an investment in time and money.Feld talks about other events that a startup community can host, and I think action based the action based networking events he mentions like Startup Weekend can be another great thing to help energize a fledgling community.

          2. LE

            Thanks for the explanation. I suspected that and even googled it but couldn’t find anything. (Now checking again I can see a few links.)Have you thought about getting sponsors in exchange for, as they say, “promotional consideration”?

          3. Jeffrey Hartmann

            We have not needed this as of yet, but depending on how large the event becomes we might end up needing to do something in the future. As of now it is a few hours of my time + less than a hundred dollars in coffee and snacks. I’m happy to give this back to the community.

    2. fredwilson

      Great comment

    3. JamesHRH

      Most companies mirror the maker / founder in culture & structure.A business is a separate entity and will need to be treated as such. A personal / corporate divergence is likely in most cases.Point #2 is bang on. Point 3 is deep, deep maker-ville 😉

  17. Laurie Barlev

    I know we are talking early stage but the reality is most people need to *learn* how to manage even if they have the personality for it. Whether you ever manage a huge team or only 3 people, it is helpful to approach managing as something the evolves over time and with practice and not something one “just can do.”

    1. Anne Libby

      It’s like other complex skills: playing a musical instrument, knitting, or a martial art.

  18. falicon

    I’ve struggled with this my whole career (and honestly continue to struggle with it)It’s part of the reason I *love* the initial startup phase where everyone is doing everything and pitching in on everything…we are all just focused on building something from nothing. Once the team gets to a level where there needs to be bosses and managers, I start to struggle a bit and lose a bit of my passion…for the most part I’ve found the most personal success with the 3rd approach (hands in both; hiring as many leaders as possible beneath me) but as a whole I really struggle with part (and it’s def. held back many of my personal projects from *really* blowing up).

    1. JimHirshfield

      Ya gotta go with what works for you.

      1. falicon

        True…but what if what works for you is specifically what prevents you from building a huge success? 😉

        1. Anne Libby

          Then is it really working?

          1. falicon

            I guess it depends on your definition of ‘works’ and ‘success’.Creating successful lifestyle businesses that remain really small on the staff front is ‘working’ and a ‘success’ for a lot of people…but it’s not a huge success…

          2. Ted Harro

            I guess that depends on how you define success?

          3. falicon

            yep agree completely.

          4. Anne Libby

            Creating a business that works is a significant achievement. Many businesses don’t make it.The chase to achieve some objective definition of success can be painfully crushing. (I crush myself with this, frequently — that doesn’t work for me: I was projecting.)

          5. falicon

            Yep I feel you – I find that the very thing that drives us to create also tends to drive us all to always feel like “it’s not good enough”.I have been pretty successful at building lifestyle businesses (I guess it’s my true niche; and I’ve had fun & benefited greatly from each) but I often feel like I’ve failed miserably at building anything truly successful (because my intent has always to build something world changing and to reach higher than I’ve been anywhere close to reaching yet)

          6. Anne Libby

            If you support yourself (and family?), if your customers gain value from your relationship, and if other people make their livelihoods working in your business, you’ve already changed the world.

        2. JimHirshfield

          I suppose there comes a time when you need to take a long look in the mirror. Then go fill the void with someone talented.

          1. falicon


    2. ShanaC

      are you finding people you really trust and want to work with?

      1. falicon

        I trust everyone (until they give me a reason not to)…finding people I want to work with is a little bit harder, but for the most part, if you are a ‘doer’ than I want to work with you…The bigger challenge I find in today’s environment is finding people that want to work with me (on my things). 99% of the people I connect with focus on selling me in an effort to get me to drop what I’m doing/interested in and join their team/effort/dream instead…it’s always flattering (and sometimes even interesting/compelling), but also often draining…which sounds a bit like whining I guess (it’s not all that bad really — just highlights my personal weakness as a ‘movement leader’ more than anything I think)

        1. ShanaC

          i know the feeling. I’m lucky that I know plenty of people who want to help me along the way, but not many who want to work with me directly….

  19. Wiggins

    Perhaps divorce counselors should read this and apply it.

  20. Ela Madej

    Another way to look at it (which keeps me not only sane but also happy): Entrepreneurs are ultimate makers because building A COMPANY is an amazing act of creation. I’m also an athlete and a dancer but entrepreneurship can really be more challenging than extreme sports and more creative than arts.

    1. fredwilson

      That is the way to think about it.

    2. karen_e

      You go, girl

    3. Matt A. Myers

      Sports is physical mental focus / concentration. Arts is fluid how you want with no real laws of nature or laws of relationships needing to be bound to. These are individual activities – albeit you need a team for many sports, though the goal for everyone is very structured, incentivized towards a specific goal.If you’re building a company, you’re bringing a community together. The better you understand how a cohesive community exists, the better you can become / potentially become at fostering this community. Sometimes it’s just money and a salary that is enough to get work done – but if you can find the people who are doing it for more than the incentivize of salary, then that’s where the gold and community and bonding will really shine. This of course takes time to find these people, build relationship, bring them into the organization – and then you will need to find other people, hopefully as passionate, who fill in whatever gaps in knowledge or expertise that aren’t filled.

    4. JamesHRH

      Most makers are not makers of organizations. This is a rare person.An honest review would show that very few makers of things have succeeded in their first attempt at building n organization.An insanely successful ‘one trick pony’ company frequently has these issues. MS a classic example. Kudos to Mr. Page – he appears to be succeeding at becoming a maker of a global tech giant (although its early).

    5. Donna Brewington White

      Having this view of things can be a saving grace.

  21. laurie kalmanson

    awesome posti’ve worked in startups where this was more and less smooth … hiring people smarter than you are is one big answer, and knowing when to be upfront and when to stand down are two more

  22. Guest

    This topic is so relevant for our company right now as we look for a technical lead/future CTO. I would love this group’s feedback and suggestions.Background:My Dad does consulting for founders and 90% of his work is helping them unwind problematic (often explosive) agreements. I read Noam Wasserman’s fantastic book _Founder’s Dilemma’s_ where he notes, “More recently, venture capitalists in one survey attributed 65% of failures within their portfolio companies to problems within the startup’s management team.1 Another study asked investors to identify problems they thought might occur within their portfolio companies; a full 61% of such problems involved issues within the team.” From personal experience, transitioning into a pure managerial role can be a huge, all consuming challenge. And I saw this as a major hurdle for most companies coming out of our GAN accelerator last year. Fred, you are now confirming similar challenges in your portfolio companies.Challenge:Given all this, I must admit to “partnering anxiety”. I’m the “business guy” with a passion for product and user acquisition, but have a fairly solid technical understanding for the biz guy and have managed technical teams before. I’m currently looking for that technical lead that can code now but can quickly shift gears into hiring and leading and grow in to our CTO. I have a 2×2 matrix I use to map candidates (yes, 2×2, I’m a “biz” guy :). One axis is technical skills (low to high), and the other is leadership skills (low to high). Of course, they have to match the culture too, but the matrix seems to be a good early filter.Framework:Here’s what I find from the intros I have had over the last 6+ months:1) Low tech skill, low leadership skill:+ will work for equity- low on both skill axis so doesn’t add much value2) High tech skill, low leadership skill:- won’t work for equity (doesn’t have to give current demand, or has low risk tolerance, or has their own project and wants to “be their own boss” see _Myths of E Myth_ here. Doh)+/- may or may not want to make the transition into leader3) Low tech, high leadership- probably won’t have respect of the team, at least early on, maybe never- can’t add value in short term4) High tech skill, high leadership (ideal candidate)+ can truly lead the technical side of the company while participating in solving our hard problems – won’t work for equity (doesn’t have time given their current gig, doesn’t have to given current demand, pressure to keep career “on track” by joining well funded high profile startup) and demands huge salary to spend any time on any startup, even with a significant equity offerObservations:So far my introductions have fallen into either #2 or #4, with is good. Being capital constrained prevents me from hiring these candidates right now, which is bad. And the cons of hiring #1 and #3 (for the technical lead/CTO position) outweigh the pros.My perspective:I personally disagree with the common VC maxim that “if you can’t get a great tech person on your team early then you can’t sell your idea and you are doomed”. This sounds fine for pre-seed, but as soon as you raise and hire a team, the founders become managers and you have the problems Fred highlights.The tech lead role is critical for our company over time so I’m looking for a number #4. But, for all the reasons listed above I must be funded first to get who I want. Plus, the more skills and experience a person has usually the later in the career she is and the later in her career she is the less risk tolerance she has. I have met multiple #4 candidates who were very interested the problem we are solving, how we are solving it, saw the huge potential, meshed well culturally, and had solid tech and leadership skills, but couldn’t commit unless they were getting paid $xxx,xxx plus xx% equity “because I have a family/I have a minimum lifestyle cost and that is what their other offers are”.So my plan has been to launch an MVP using less experienced team and experienced contractors, get market feedback and some traction, raise a round at attractive terms for the investor, then hire for #4, then build out our own full time team. This is the lowest cost, fastest option that I have found. This will of course hurt my initial valuation some but in my mind this approach will be much better team-wise for my company in the medium term growth phase, which is most important to me.Your perspective:What feedback and suggestions do you all have? How have you handled this challenge if you are the biz guy or designer? What am I missing? How could I look at this differently?Thanks!

    1. ShanaC

      this is an interesting way of looking at it. I’m not sure what to think

  23. FlavioGomes

    Holster the Ego. In the very early stages after raising capital…CTO or CEO? You can’t do both. You likely won’t scale if you try. You make it hard on yourself and likely hard on others. Do what you are best at. Find a trusted and talented collegue that shares the passion for the things you’re not as good at. Oh..and as you get bigger often times the CTO stops making things and they “make and manage” other makers.

  24. Brandon Burns

    The best creative managers are good cops who have, and work well with a lieutenant who doesn’t mind being the bad cop.When the manager represents the integrity of the work and the artists who create it, and the bad cop cracks the whip to ensure things get done, you’ve got a winning formula.

    1. Aaron Klein

      Agree to some extent and I’ve had to do that. Contrarian view: hire a team of entrepreneurs and get out of their way. No whips needed. 😉

      1. karen_e

        Tell us more, Aaron. This is interesting.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I love the idea of hiring entrepreneurs.If you can find people who are obsessed with solving problems and want to fill out their skills to start their own company some day, you find people who are intrinsically motivated to “make their bones” by making your startup a success.They’re effectively co-founders even though they might not have been there on day one.

          1. thinkdisruptive

            Totally agree with this. Biggest issue is to get “entrepreneurs”, who by definition have their own strong opinions about how to do things the right way and the right things to do, to agree that when a decision is made, it’s made, and not keep trying to go their own way. If you can lead a team like that, you are golden. Works great if there is strong sharing of vision, a strong leader, and an agreed process to resolve disagreement.

          2. Aaron Klein


          3. ShanaC

            that doesn’t equal entrepnuer. And as all of you scale up, you may cause more political problems

          4. Aaron Klein

            Disagree. I want to build a company full of driven entrepreneurs.Another company doing this is Square. Look at the headline:

          5. ShanaC

            everyone says that, and then they get involved in hiring risk. Hiring really really entrepneurial people has huge hiring risk – they can quit to do their own thing. They argue a lot.I’ve seen this as reasons why I won’t be hired, even at startups, even for jobs I’m qualified for. Fear of entrepreneurship in some cultures – which is directly related to how hands off you want to be as a boss.

          6. thinkdisruptive

            But, a lot of quality startups are just like this, up to somewhere around 20 people, maybe a bit fewer, a significant percentage (more than half) can be entrepreneurs in the sense that Aaron is describing. Entrepreneurial passion, attention to detail, and caring is a great thing if channeled. It doesn’t usually work in the long term unless you can find a way to make them all captains of their own teams, but startups are designed as temporary organizations whose goal is to identify the right business model and prove that the core idea is viable and has real application. That kind of work is exciting to entrepreneurs, whether they are boss or not, especially if it’s a big idea.In my experience, people don’t tend to quit during the formative period, unless they were a poor fit or had a dysfunctional relationship with the leader to begin with (and arguing a lot — negative arguing in particular, is a symptom of that).So, there’s a risk, but a risk that is often worth taking. The larger the company though, the less likely they’ll be willing to accept the disruptive risk (not in the sense that I usually mean disruption — rather the traditional meaning).One thing that I would echo from other commenters here is that there is a lot of overlap with the skills necessary to be a parent, and being a parent, especially of more than one child, is a great training ground for leading people. Among other things, parenting forces you to be more humble, and realize that you can’t control everything.

          7. Brandon Burns

            i’m 100% with you on this.and for the record, everyone needs to ditch the “if you’re not an entrepreneur you’re not worthy” mindset. it’s a crock of shit. some of the smartest, most talented people i know — who’ve grown existing businesses and made a lot of people a lot of money — want job security, a nice salary, and could care less about equity or starting their own thing from scratch. they want the person running things to actually run things, and for everyone else to put their heads down and execute what they know how to do best.there is nothing wrong with these people. in fact, many of them are wildly more successful than “entrepreneurs.”there are always many ways to approach anything, many mindsets behind many different personalities. if being an entrepreneur were the only way to a good life, everyone would be doing it. the reality is that, statistically, its one of the worst ways to move up in your profession and make good money because most fal on their ass.i’d like to think i carry the entrepreneurial spirit but, really, who’s the smartest in the end? is it really the entrepreneurs?we go out and start things because it makes us happy. not because its the best way to do anything.

          8. FlavioGomes

            Most of the fun startups I’ve the pleasure of knowing, are a collection of unemployable, lack experience, untied down individuals with very little outside personal commitments and very little to lose if they fail. The founder is usually the person with the most visible symptoms of bipolar disorder. The early hires, share similar traits but respect the founders leadership. They are all classified as entrepreneurs to varying degrees in my opinion. Often times, and it should be expected, that early hires spin off their own thing when they gain confidence and experience. They get you to MVP. (Side note..this will have deep consequences to your cap table) That’s when you start hiring specialists with track records.

          9. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            I like this idea. In fact, I think that early hires at a startup are better if they are a entrepreneurial themselves. As you said they might not have been there from Day 1 but their input could have a big effect on how the startup develops.

          10. Donna Brewington White

            I love this generous perspective that serves the greater good of the startup ecosystem. The startup as incubator.

          11. Aaron Klein

            Agreed. But to be honest, I am very self-interested, not just altruistic. I believe entrepreneurs make the best business builders.As a company matures, there is a place for people who have no desire to start a company some day. A lot of them make great employees and work hard. But when you’re in the throes of figuring out which way is north, you need people who thrive on that kind of ambiguity. 🙂

      2. Brandon Burns

        even entrepreneurs need whips!4 entrepreneurs on a project = 4 strong and differing opinions on how to get it done. someone’s gotta channel all the energy in the right direction.but, yep, there are other ways. this is just what has worked for me, mainly because this is how the industry i came from, the advertising and design agency world, is set up. creative directors inspire drawing outside the lines, producers put things back in line.

        1. Aaron Klein

          I took “whips” to mean motivation. It’s absolutely true that a team needs direction.We have really healthy conflict about ideas. My Director of Engineering has looked me in the eye and said “I think this would be a dumb thing to build.” And ultimately, after a lot of great discussion and shaping of the decision, I’ve had to make tough calls.The cool thing about having a team of entrepreneurs though is that once the call is made, there is no need to drive motivation. The motivation to build is already there.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            You are a brave man.

  25. Bennett Resnik

    The balance of maker and manager is one that I have found to be quite difficult. In my previous business, identifying the elephant wasn’t the problem, but the angle and approach to it was. If an elephant is in the middle of the room and three people surround it, each has a different perspective. I found that the maker in me had one perspective, the manager another, and my team the third. I recommend identifying the core values of each, weighing them to form a final opinion before deciding to take on new roles or to further develop a previously acquired one.

  26. Bennett Resnik

    I’d like to focus on one of the key issues here, balance. The truest aspect of balance is rhythm, if you can find and keep your rhythm, then you have found balance. Founders, some of which I know well enough to speak for, can;t keep rhythm. At this point, you have to take a step back and see what is best for the product, best for you, and best for your team (not in that order necessarily).

  27. jmcaddell

    Fred, another great post. One reason I started collecting stories at The Mistake Bank is that there are many valuable lessons that you can’t learn easily from a book or MBA course. This is one. Only by trying, messing up, and adjusting, over a period of weeks, months, or years, can a talented creative person learn to manage and lead. It seems almost cruel that one of the key factors driving success or failure is one that is not a natural talent of the creative leader. But that’s life.I posted some more thoughts on this post over on The Mistake Bank: http://mistakebank.caddelli

  28. karen_e

    This is a post I will come back to again and again. You provide some very useful archetypes. I love that your non-industry examples were a young woman and a kooky gay couple. (Since you liked the Valentino movie, now you have to watch the 2011 Yves St. Laurent movie, L’Amour Fou. YSL’s manager and lover, Pierre Berge, is clearly responsible for 50% of the storied success.)

    1. panterosa,

      I love YSL and saw his retro in Montreal a few years back for 4 days, every day. I am desperate to find a Pierre so I can create as much as YSL.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Ha! So that’s the goal, eh? Guess I should watch the film. 😉

    2. ShanaC

      if you’ve seen both, which is better

      1. karen_e

        Impossible to choose. The Valentino movie has a better storyline; YSL is a more interesting character.

      2. panterosa,

        YSL is a far better designer and had more impact on women’s dress. He intended to, and succeeded in liberating women by dress that supported their increasingly modern lives.

  29. Ted Harro

    The seductive part is that we all probably know one example of someone who was able to be both Maker and Manager. And we all think we’re exceptional like that person so we go for it. As the ad says, “I hate OR… I want AND!”Fred, I’m curious with all of your experience with founders what clues tell you when someone should stay a Maker, when they should transition to a Manager, and when they’re the rare breed that could maybe do both.I’d bet your experience gives you a hunch on those clues even if you wouldn’t prescribe.

    1. fredwilson

      mostly it comes from what they want from themselves

  30. Mark Essel

    Becoming a boss isn’t cool, you know what’s really cool? Becoming The Boss.

    1. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Lol, the VP culture – arghhhh! 😉

    2. JLM

      .Just remember, one does not receive real power.One takes power.When your are the boss, it is only when you snatch power from the heavens that you become The Boss.And then the world never looks the same again..

      1. Mark Essel

        It’s tough to overcome my institutional physics training where power is generated, often times in uncontrollable ways. I will think on authority this morning.

  31. BillMcNeely

    Emphasing Managing and Leading are two distinct skill sets (not interchangeable ) would helpful. In the Army the job (Platoon Leader) requiring the most skill and experience goes to the least competent (22 year old kid with zero life experience) that is why is this individual is matched up with some older and wiser to ensure the org runs well. The Batman/Robin dynamic works well.

    1. ShanaC

      how are they different though

      1. BillMcNeely

        You manage things and processes. You lead people. Here is a piece I wrote about Amazon highlighting this:

        1. ShanaC

          thank you

    2. JLM

      .The military example of a platoon leader and a platoon sergeant is an excellent example of the evolution and training of leaders. It is a coming of age experience at the speed of light and under extreme duress if you are being shot at or mortared.You learn faster.Imagine that you played Div I sports, were at the top of your class academically in engineering, were #1 in your basic course and #1 at Ranger School. You are damn good raw material. And you are as green as grass in the real business of soldiering. You are a Second Lieutenant.And then you get your first platoon and you have PFCs (Privates First Class) who have been in the Army for 3 years and have spent a year in combat. And they put YOU in charge. That is the real world in the Army.And, they give you a platoon sergeant — lifer — who has seen LTs come and go and bleed and die. And now he has another young LT to shape and mold and groom and educate. And the SOB LT is his God damn boss.And then you find out if you are smart or lucky — better yet both.The first thing any LT has to do is to understand he does not know anything. Then he has to have the wisdom to ask the Plt Sgt — “what do you think”?And, if he is lucky, very lucky, his Plt Sgt will say back to him: “Well, LT, I have been in this man’s Army for 25 years and I have seen it done this way successfully.”And if you make that one single connection — that one moment of humility that recognizes that being #1 at Ranger School does not really buy you anything at this moment in time — then you have an infinitely improved probability of living to see First Lieutenant.I am alive today because some Plt Sgt took pity on my sorry ass and molded me. And shaped me. And cast me into a hot furnace but did not let me burn to death. And saved me when I desperately needed saving.And at the end of it all, I learned a bit about soldiering.Everything I ever needed to know to succeed in business I learned as a Platoon Leader.Thank you, Platoon Sergeants everywhere..

      1. BillMcNeely

        I was fortunately to have SFC Buck Hawes as my Platoon Sergeant in Iraq. Could not have made it without him.

        1. JLM

          .SFC Carter from the Mississippi Delta. Ms State running back w a bad knee. A mountain of a man. It took 6 months but I became “his” Lieutenant.I served with him another time — commanding a combat engineer company overseas — and we had a “special” relationship.I overhead him telling the company NCOs — “Is the Old Man any good? Hell, I trained him. You’re damn right he’s good.”Like getting the Pope’s imprimatur. And the truth to boot..

      2. takingpitches

        Such a brilliant model of creating leaders

  32. Matt A. Myers

    I hadn’t finished reading the post from my previous comment. Now that I have I have a few more thoughts..I don’t think I’ll ever not be able to fully work with and overview/review every little detail – mind you, I will trust the people I hire, and their judgement, and trust their experimenting when asked to – and if something turns out completely wrong than there was likely a communication error on my part that I would then work on.The holistic piece is just so important and someone has to understand it in order to set course/define paths, and keep on path or pivot/change the direction of a path slightly if needed; The holistic of course is made up of the pieces, which you can’t do all on your own – but you can certainly try to understand them all, and actually need to / the better you do, the better decision making you can do (awareness). I think this is why design-minded entrepreneurs / designers are a hot investment for some these days as they understand / good at predicting user behaviour and human interactions with function and purpose.What I’ve learned is the more prepared you can be, the more planning you’ve done, the easier it is for everyone. I’ve created all of the mockups for what I am doing, some things which might not even be coded for a year (hopefully sooner), and most of which isn’t polished – though that’s not the piece I enjoy, however I know the styling I’d like to try. I know the important features to work on, relatively when to work on them. The main thing I can see is just keeping everything in the present moment organized, and constantly preparing for the future. With that mindset, along with team building efforts – inclusion, brainstorming, fine-detail decision making, keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest – will allow things to move along as quickly and as smoothly as possible.I’m still unsure / can’t know exactly how the multiple team(s) I’ll be overseeing will work or function, though I guess part of that is the part of a company culture that will evolve into systems that work for everyone involved. I look forward to it though. I like working with people. I like being challenged, whether it’s my patience or perfectionism, I’m open to experimenting and listening to others and open to the multiple ways that different people work best.

  33. Paul Sanwald

    As someone who manages an engineering group as well as being a developer myself, the hard things for me were very much learning how to delegate, and also recognizing when the results were done in a different way than I personally would have done it, but are still good. The best is when someone does it better than I would have! I love it when that happens.Other things I found really helpful is giving the team big, unifying goals. Everyone can then ask themselves “is what I am working on getting us closer towards the goal? if not, why am I doing it?”. Also, giving people responsibility and ownership over what they are working on. When I was a young dev I loved owning stuff, understanding every detail and working on it soup to nuts.I really think a lot of this boils down to trust. Trust people, give them responsibility and ownership, and they will give you their best.very interested to read everyone else’s comments on this!

  34. Jeff T.

    There’s been plenty written about this and I agree that this is one of the biggest reasons why many startups fail and also why many businesses can’t get past a certain stage of growth. You need to be a maker to create the product, and a bit of a hustler as well to make it a business. But, most makers also end up being micromanagers, limiting the growth potential of the company. Once it gets to about 20 people, it’s too much for them to handle/micromanage. If they can successfully transition their own outlook, or bring in someone from the outside and ‘step away’ a bit, thereby placing trust in their employees, the business may flourish. Without that, their growth will always get stuck at a certain size.I believe Ichack Adizes calls this the adolescence phase of a business. If it can get through this growing pain, then the probability for greater growth shoots upward.

  35. bernardlunn

    When I started my first management level job nobody said “this is fundamentally and totally different from what you did before”. It would have saved me a helluva lot of learning by trial and error if somebody had said that.

  36. andyidsinga

    can anyone comment on how the folks at valve software handle these tensions in their flat ‘hierarchy’ ?ps, see

  37. Tommy Dyer

    My thinking lately is that becoming (a boss) and/or learning (to lead) has nothing to do with teaching. Instead, it has everything to do with learning by doing (regardless of success or failure), coupled with reflecting in a separate space afterwards, preferably with a close confidante, colleague or friend. For me, learning happens out loud. In this perspective, anyone, maker or manager, can, at the very least, get better at whatever they are doing. Of course, that is coming from a self-declared exec. coach, so I *would* think that.

  38. Erin Newkirk

    Isn’t there a 3rd M? Marketer? (Really meaning biz dev.)

    1. fredwilson

      you need that in your company and on your team. if the founder has that skill set, all the better

      1. Erin Newkirk

        Just meant that a founder/maker needs to find time to market their product. Creating partnerships, alliances, product usage / ‘eating your own dog food’, speaking engagements, writing articles, social media, etc. That takes time away from making + managing. It’s the 3rd leg in the Boss/Founder stool. You could say this blog is your 3rd M in terms of your ‘day job.’

  39. Michael

    this is the best post you have ever written….ever. It cuts to the very core of the entire product development and venture capital industry and the rare times it works for everyone. You have drilled down right to the center of it all. It is the dance. The passion for product. The reason for everything. Why a slight positioning change in a field can cause a founder/maker to exclaim perfection while a manager could have their eye on playing politics and not product. Those on the outside have trouble seeing it.

    1. fredwilson

      i appreciate you saying that. one comment like this a month is all i need to keep going.

      1. Michael

        you are welcome. I am a product/founder – I spend 12 or 13 hours a day obsessing over the smallest detail in every screen. It is obsession. Outside money is curse. Been there. Done that. Still carrying past investors in my cap table. My users learn to love my madness as I go deeper in the design and reveal more. A fine wine takes time. Your post was awesome. I have a little more faith in the money guys now and will continue to read you. You clearly have the ‘eye’ to know good product when you see it.

        1. fredwilson

          money can harm more than help. use it wisely.

  40. ShanaC

    First off – thank you for the girls reference and the Valentino reference. It made my day.Secondly, I think we need to differentiate between letting go of creativity and leadership.An open secret is that most major artists have teams of people creating their stuff.(… for an extreme example)If you are comfortable at leadership, you’ll be comfortable at defining the vision so that all the people involved understand it. And that is a super creative and super hard thing to do.

    1. fredwilson

      stitching lena dunham and valentino and startup management was fun.

    1. JLM

      .While this generation absolutely did NOT invent business or sex, the jury is still out on Drucker. He MAY have a hand in it. Still not sure..

  41. Viraj Shah

    This post is spot on. I certainly believe that the decision to do both is a slippery slope to go down and the choice is different for everyone. That being said, I think the best makers and founders/CEOs have a little bit of both types in them. Both are capable enough to work at a low level and get there hands dirty (definition of a maker and the ability of a founder to GSD). Both are also capable of seeing the overall bigger picture and vision (key to a founder and the ability of maker to encapsulate a theme,design principle, etc. in his or her work).

  42. Kevin Curtin

    This sounds very supplementary to a lot of the conventional logic surrounding what makes a great leader/CEO. Passion for the product becomes natural salesmanship. We live in an age where “customer service is the new marketing” (…, so I feel like there is some scale of the business beneath which a manager can also function as a marketer – and in most budgetary circumstances, she must. Ultimately, the founder’s vision for the end use of her product is solely her understanding and the extent to which she educates others of said purpose might be called “marketing.” All of this only true to a certain point, however, when scale dictates that it is no longer possible to wear so many hats.

  43. aleksj

    A manager is a maker too: a manager makes teams.Teams make products. Teams make better products than any individual maker who would sacrifice everything ever could, and together they make them faster.

    1. Anne Libby


  44. RacerRick

    Interesting that you refer to “artists”. That’s one of the theme’s of one of Seth Godin’s new books.

  45. Adam Feuer

    As a boss you can be a maker of teams. Teams matter – their culture, their creativity, their ability to get results, their ability to have fun making things even under pressure. It’s a different way of looking at making.

  46. matthughes

    “well it is a shame that you can’t hang a website on a wall and move on to the next one.”Money quote.

    1. fredwilson

      it was my favorite line in the post for sure


    Great stuff, as usual, Fred. I agree with Barry. I was lucky enough to learn, and to apply my learning, to be generous and lead with openness and the same confidence that got me here. This kept me aloft on that personal creative ride I loved, by getting in there and doing it, leading it, with my group, tapping into those 10,000 hours. But I think this only worked for me when I found as much joy in seeing others build on that fire and honing their own talent and passion. It isn’t letting go and falling. It’s letting go and flying higher, farther. I once had a manager who focused on our weaknesses to the point that it created fear and, hence, produced weaker, less confident work. He could never figure out the vicious cycle he entrapped himself and his teams. Conversely, I once had a manager who, even in criticism, found things to authentically praise. We flew as high and fast as it took, without fearing the Icarus deception Seth Godin writes about — and this fueled a fierce pride and joy and confidence in ourselves. As it did in our manager, for whom we all wanted to win.

  48. Modernist

    from literary maker George Orwell, “Why I Write”:I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:(i) Sheer egoism. Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on the grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc., etc. It is humbug to pretend this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen — in short, with the whole top crust of humanity. The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish. After the age of about thirty they almost abandon the sense of being individuals at all — and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery. But there is also the minority of gifted, willful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class. Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.(ii) Aesthetic enthusiasm. Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement. Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story. Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and ought not to be missed. The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc. Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.(iii) Historical impulse. Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.(iv) Political purpose. — Using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense. Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other peoples’ idea of the kind of society that they should strive after. Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias. The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

    1. JLM

      .Great stuff. Well played.Would only add: to teach..

  49. PhilipSugar

    This is why I’ve always believed in teams, and by team I mean equals when it comes to equity. Yes you have to put controls in so if the worst happens that equity shifts.But you should have somebody that loves to make, and somebody that loves business, and somebody that is great at sweating the details…sorry I don’t know how you can love that but I know people that are great at it:-).Of course I’m biased because that’s what I’ve done, but it is so hard to be the person that makes and sweat the nitty gritty details or go visit customers. Its so hard travel and be all over the place talking to customers and make or keep track of all the details. The least fun job (in my mind) is keeping track of all of the details and that is why it should be on par with the other two.Now the challenge is titles which are always a pisser, and the problem is that only the CEO gets to go to the fun Fredland event. But you can square that up in other ways.

  50. David Petersen

    If you put a ton of thought and effort into hiring, your job as a manager will get a lot easier.

  51. Esayas Gebremedhin

    “There are a number of ways to handle this conflict that arises between the maker in you and the manager in you.” – This is true Fred. I found this one a year ago and found it appealing to my style: “Leading through a common vision”.Or the art of making people work for themselves.

  52. Dave W Baldwin

    A true artist is able to see the bigger picture and enable the needed pieces to come together. If this isn’t happening, maybe (figuratively) knock the left side of his/her head to force the rest of the picture come into place.

  53. Bhanu

    As a Maker who even runs a company called Maker, my perspective comes from observing how doing both almost always sucks.Our industry (tech) began with a factory mentality (semi-conductors), and is morphing rapidly towards a design/product first business.I’d even generalize- Managers are great at running factories, and makers at running design/innovation centric ventures.A comparison I always draw is to see how hollywood figures this out way better than us.The PM (Director/Maker) has his role and responsibilities split from the GM (Producer/Manager) from day one, and any blockbuster, award-winner, major hit speaks volumes about the benefit of letting the Maker focus on one thing only- Making.Fred- perhaps the tech investor community needs to evolve from the factory thinking as well. Most founders are expected to be both Makers and Managers, and be great at both. Surely there are some outliers who’ll manage to thrive both, but that’s the exception not the norm.Great product companies need to be run by Maker founders, and a Jobs, Zuck, Jack, and more in the future, will insist of having a Cook, Sandberg and Robois with them from the start.

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t disagree with you Bhanu. but i also think we should support the entrepreneurs in figuring this out for themselves in a way that fits the goals they have for their company.

  54. jerrycolonna

    One of the biggest challenges in life is keeping up with the AVC community….Fred writes a great post that needs comments and before I know, there’s more than 200 comments. Sheesh.;)First, I love the construct of Maker and Manager. I think it’s a powerful and useful abstraction that clarifies so many folks’ struggles.Second, though, and maybe more important…I wholeheartedly agree that, in the end, there’s no right path (among the paths you’ve laid out). A few weeks ago, Brad Feld and I were talking about leadership (yeah, it’s what nerds like us do when we’re out picking up pizza for the folks back at home) and I made the point that, in all of my work with clients, I can only, ultimately recommend that people lead as authentically as possible.In other words, the right path is yours to figure out.

    1. JLM

      .And there is always a path forward.Always. All ways..

      1. jerrycolonna

        Having just commented on Brad Feld’s blog tonight about depression, I think your point about there always being a path forward is especially important.

        1. JLM

          .We all have our demons. Paid for at full price, rented sometimes, purchased with a return policy.It is our individual relationships with those demons and the hours we let them come out to play that differs.Sometimes our demons are banished when we get a peek at somebody else’s demons.Our dragons turn out to be lizards. Little tiny lizards. Fish bait, really.Perspective is a very good thing..

        2. LE

          Wow. Was in the middle of reading AVC and just forked to that blog post by Feld. Thanks for mentioning that.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Me too. Powerful post.

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Yay, Jerry Colonna in the house. I love “lead as authentically as possible.” But true of everything, yes?With you on keeping up with this community. I first read this post early morning on my phone before leaving bed and not cogent enough to comment. Came back 200 comments later…

      1. jerrycolonna

        I think that’s all we’ve got…being authentic…everything else just crushes the life out of you.

      2. fredwilson

        try being the bartender donna! 🙂

        1. Donna Brewington White

          You have that role locked in Fred. No contenders. 🙂

    3. LE

      “ultimately recommend that people lead as authentically as possible.”Scary thought though. That means that people who come across as tools actually are tools.

      1. jerrycolonna

        Perhaps. But then some are merely tools of their own craziness.

    4. fredwilson

      yup. and our role is to help them figure it out.

  55. reece

    totally struggle with this oneeven when i try to block off entire days in a room by myself with zero meetings (known here at Shelby as Maker’s Day), i end up doing some sort of management – not proactively, but because it just happensultimately, i just end up letting some things slip and trying to focus on what matters

    1. fredwilson

      i am sure you are great maker Reece, but i know you are a very gifted manager.

      1. reece

        thanks Fredtrying to be better at both!

  56. Donna Brewington White

    You’ve laid out several alternatives, yet is this an age-old problem that is here to stay or is this the type of tension that leads to new paradigms of thinking?One thing that is really clear is that self-awareness is critical. Also clear, gauging from the comments, is that this is a much needed discussion.Great, great topic.

  57. Eric Friedman

    “What I can recommend is that you stare at the elephant in the room, name it, and deal with it.” This is most true because “if you can say it, you can fix it” – which was a key takeaway I got from someone at a management training session.

  58. Cory

    99% sure that artist-developer is the guy. Love his outlook.

    1. fredwilson

      it is not. but billy certainly has some of that in him.