Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown

That line is from From Act III, Scene 1, Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part II, in which the king laments his inability to sleep. Leadership is a burden, whether you are the President attempting to calm the nation in the wake of an act of terrorism, or a CEO taking questions at the all hands meeting about the financing everyone knows is going on but hasn’t happened yet.

I work with leaders all day long. I sometimes advise them. I sometimes critique them. And mostly I support them. Someone has to. Because everyone is relying on the leader but who is the leader going to rely on?

The team around the leader is critical. In the case of the CEO that is the executive team, usually the direct reports but sometimes a few more, and the Board who the CEO is accountable to. Get those two groups right and leadership becomes a bit less of a burden.

If you are a CEO and you are feeling that uneasy head right now, look around you. Do you have the support you need from your team and your board? If the answer is no, do something about it. Because you can’t be a great leader without a great support system.

And get a coach. I’ve written about that frequently here at AVC. The leadership team and the Board, as important as they are, have complicated relationships with the CEO. A coach should be a person who can be completely and totally focused on supporting the CEO. There are many good ones out there.

I also encourage CEOs to join a CEO support group. Meeting regularly with peer CEOs is a great way to vent with each other about the nonsense that goes on in a company, but it is also a great place to get actionable advice and learn from each other.

Most org charts have the CEO on top and then a triangular outline of the team underneath. But the correct visualization is the CEO on the bottom with a triangle outline of the team on top of them. That’s leadership. And it is not easy.


Jason Wright posted this into the comments. Thanks Jason. I’m posting it here too.


Comments (Archived):

    1. fredwilson

      just posted this in the main post. thanks so much!

    2. Toby Lewis

      Thanks for sharing. Wonderful stuff. The entire series from Richard II to Henry V is great on the subject of leadership. As is Fred’s blog, of course.The transformation of Hal to Henry V is an inspiration/psychological portrait of all entrepreneurs and leaders, especially as he has to make so many tough decisions and jettison some good friends along way. The dismissal of Falstaff presumably rings of truth to many entrepreneurs.

    3. Tom Labus

      This is great. Great way to start the day!!

  1. mattb2518

    LIKE. Not sure what else to add.

    1. fredwilson

      you taught me a bunch of this matt

      1. Mario Cantin

        That’s a great dynamic you, Matt and Brad Feld have. I wonder how many VCs says they’ve learned much from one of the CEOs in their portfolio like that.

      2. William Mougayar

        You learn in drips and drabs, but you return the aggregate in buckets 🙂

    2. Twain Twain

      Adding Alex Ferguson’s view on leadership, in conversation with Michael Moritz: “You have to win twice on Saturday. You have to win the game, and you have to win the press conference. You have to give a message to your fans.”He also notes the keys to the kingdom for a leader are consistency and avoiding complacency.

      1. Michael Elling

        SAF. A(n):1) indefatigable user of analytics2) matrix organizer who never let one piece become indispensable3) astute at knowing what “points” mattered and when a draw was a winWrote this in 2012 before he became a management guru: http://bit.ly/yD5ljENow, could we just get ManU to shoot more under LVG and can everyone play like Memphis for the last 15 minutes as he did against WestHam? How often did ManU win or draw games in the last 10 minutes of matches under SAF. Hasn’t been happening under LVG as they are tiring themselves out with 60%+ possession.

        1. Twain Twain

          Sir Alex “tells it as he sees it” and made it clear no one star player (and their ego) is greater than the team and the win.The players PLAYED THEIR HEARTS OUT for him as much as for the ManU shirt and their legacy.

      2. sigmaalgebra

        Moritz is fairly bright but mostly is just an old newspaper guy who was really lucky to be in the right place at the right time and make the right network connections.On the winning, can just f’get about the press conference. Instead, on the Saturdays, just win all the games. Then win the playoffs. Then win the Super Bowl. Then just smile.

    3. Richard

      YPO is great resource. But, we need a modern equivalent, a NPO (New Presidents Organization).

      1. Ryan Frew

        Yep. Thought of YPO forum immediately when I read this. Not surprised to see it mentioned here.

    4. Donna Brewington White

      I choose to Favorite!

  2. awaldstein

    There is a always a gap between what we say and what is heard.The best teams I’ve worked with have consciously been aware of this and worked beyond that communications gap.The best boards I’ve worked with as well.Looking for answers is a lot more productive an activity than looking for problems.

    1. JLM

      .The gap is closed by using the “brief back” technique and probing to see what the other party heard.”Tell me what I just told you” is the essence of it.I learned this as a 2nd Lt issuing 5-paragraph field orders for patrols. Nobody ever got the brief back right on the first attempt. Nobody.Maybe it was my fault but by using the brief back technique, we all ended up envisioning the same mission. Which was a very important consideration at the time.It is a basic communication and leadership skill that should be practiced constantly and consistently.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JamesHRH

        This is one of the all time great communication tools.

  3. Twain Twain

    Ok, in the years I’ve been lurking and commenting on AVC, this is only the 2nd post I completely agree with.I’ve always thought of myself as a “little ant carrying load up to Mount Olympus.”The “gods” are customers who are the ultimate investors of whatever the load is.The load is the team, the investors, the products, the inventions and all their associated and compounded weights which may make the journey upwards easier or harder.

  4. LIAD

    inverted triangle is such a truism.the responsibility for the team is on your shoulders not the other way around.thinking about it, same goes for a family tree.

    1. Mario Cantin

      But then again, what would happen to the word “root” in that context? 🙂

    2. Stephen Voris

      “CEO” is a job, same way “ditch digger” is a job. Condescension of one by the other just makes the work harder than it should be.As for the specifics of management as a job – Joel Spolsky has a good take on this, I think: management should be ‘clearing obstacles out of the way of the people actually doing the work’, rather than ‘ordering the people to actually do the work’. Presumably they applied for the jobs in question; why not assume they want to do them?

  5. Twain Twain

    My Grandma and Dad taught me about cultivation and it likely applies to how to build strong team and board.Leaders need our support trunks to be as strong as possible because fruits are produced from consistent cultivation.

    1. Sebastien Latapie

      I like the analogy although wouldn’t the leader be the trunk supporting the various branches and the trunks support are the roots? Less visible but oh so important!

      1. Twain Twain

        Haha, I was just editing my comment to include this:And we are the roots so need to be strong ourselves to survive winters, lack of nutrients (investment), insects that may blight our fruits etc.

  6. andyswan

    Totally agree.Refreshingly boring!

    1. JimHirshfield

      You were looking for a reference to Obama’s speech from last night, no doubt. 😉

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Good try. 😉

  7. Tom Labus

    It’s a wonderful post, thanks.

  8. pointsnfigures

    Agree. I try to support CEO’s that I have invested in. When I don’t have the resources, I try and find them. One question; there are a lot of bullshit fake coaches out there. What do you look for in a coach? How do you know? Too often, people are unwilling to say, “No, that person doesn’t know what they are doing.”I helped a friend of mine get a group started in Chicago, thejuntoinstitute.com. We did the conceptualizing, and Raman did all the hard work. Raman has really done amazing things with it. Companies that are going through it are tripling their revenue.If I am honest, I thought the approach he was taking at first was bullshit. We talked about it a long time, and met a guy named James Liautaud who recently passed away. I was sold on the concept after that.I am seeing more VCs buy into the concepts in Fred’s post. It’s a good thing.

    1. Twain Twain

      My goodness are there ever sub-standard “coaches” out there! The first couple of years I was all naive and just gave everyone a chance to steer me and to shape what I was building to what THEY thought the market needed.After a while, I realized those steers were taking me towards cul-de-sacs, giant capital sink-holes and not in the interests of either INCREASING THE VALUE, focus or market potential of my inventions.So now I’m brutally honest with myself about what I need in coaches:(1.) PRAGMA borne from having “walked the talk”and executed to highest standards.(2.) Simple direct communication.(3.) Courage and commitment as deep as mine to deliver.That switch from naivety to being a bit tougher took quite a bit of work because I was that person who was unwilling to say, “That person doesn’t know what they’re doing.”Now, as soon as I think it, I FIX IT IMMEDIATELY.

      1. JLM

        .Second to advice, bad advice. There is a lot of it out there.The most important qualification for a CEO coach is that they’ve actually been a CEO.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. William Mougayar

      Exactly. And this is easier said than done. A coach is not effective if they make the other person feel bad. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”– John Wooden

      1. pointsnfigures

        John Wooden was an amazing coach. Coach K at Duke is probably the best coach going today. If you don’t know about Coach Wooden’s theories, here is a graphical summation (taped to my bedroom wall when I was growing up):

        1. William Mougayar

          Love it!

        2. Andy Schornack

          I had this taped on my wall as well growing up…great coach

        3. JLM

          .Wooden was an amazing MAN. He just happened to be a coach also. His record will NEVER be equaled.I cannot echo your sentiments about The Rat because I hate Duke.Hook ’em, Heels!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. pointsnfigures

            Coach K West Point, best coach in the NBA Gregg Popovich, USAFA.Coach K talked about the game with Kentucky and what he did in the huddle before the shot. Amazing textbook case of leadership there. I would have liked to know what he would have done if they would have lost. Always easier to lead when you win.

          2. JLM

            .Of course, if you lead well, you often do win.While I can’t ever say anything nice about Duke, Coach K is as you describe him and Duke is blessed to have him.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        4. Twain Twain

          I love that industriousness and cooperation are at the base!

        5. Salt Shaker

          I have a Wooden hand autographed version of this hanging in my home office. It was given to me at a luncheon event where the media company I worked for named Wooden “The Greatest Coach of All-Time.” Many of his disciples were there (e.g., Kareem, Bill Walton, Marques Johnson, Jamal Wilkes). So much admiration and respect from the game’s elite. Coach died 6 months later. True lessons in leadership aren’t fleeting, they’re ever lasting.

  9. Talk to the Wall

    Love the Shakespeare, how about also: “When the sea was calm all ships alike showed mastership in floating” Coriolanus Act IV, Scene 3

  10. JimHirshfield

    Sage advice.Note that Shakespeare liked to play with words, and this line can be read as a political observation about leaders that aren’t truthful…”Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      There’s a person who knows his Shakespeare 🙂

  11. William Mougayar

    CEO support groups are underrated, but essential. And there isn’t a single CEO who doesn’t have role models they admire or try to emulate / learn from. So many books on leadership are too long on theory, but the reality of leadership is in practicing it.This quote comes to mind, from none else than Winston Churchill, a great leader who continues to inspire us. His reflections are one gem after another.“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

    1. pointsnfigures

      Churchill was awesome. “Always keep a bottle of champagne chilled in the refrigerator. In victory you deserve it, in defeat, you need it”

      1. William Mougayar

        And I might have added if I was with him:”In victory you saber it, in defeat you just pop it.”

        1. awaldstein

          Ever sabered a bottle?

          1. William Mougayar

            OMG…Arnold! Dare you ask…..I think I have sabered over 100 Champagne bottles in my lifetime, starting when I was 24 with that addiction. I have my own special saber, a replica of one of Spain’s kings. Here’s a before/after shot at a friend’s wedding, where I was the official Champagne saberer. https://uploads.disquscdn.chttps://uploads.disquscdn.c

          2. awaldstein

            You get more interesting all the time my friend!I of course thought I knew you well!It’s been a challenging day and this makes me smile–thanks!

          3. Donna Brewington White

            And here I thought your device auto-corrected “savored.”Learning something new always makes it a good day.

          4. William Mougayar

            savored it too ;)in french, sabrer le champagne. Napoleon started it.

          5. Girish Mehta

            Sabered it and then Savored it….Wonderful !Did not know that Sabering Champagne bottles was a thing :-)…

          6. ShanaC

            that is really cool. Umm, how do I learn to do that

          7. William Mougayar

            Don’t try it without knowing the method. I will tell you one day 🙂

          8. ShanaC

            I have an undecided but eventually will be decided hard date for that!

          9. William Mougayar

            Hard date for what?

          10. ShanaC

            wedding. I think it would be funny if I did that at my own wedding. No date though, but eventually there will be one, which would make that date a hard date

    2. Twain Twain

      OMG, thanks! How is it possible I didn’t know this quote?!!!There were so many times during my journey I encountered one enemy after another.The biggest enemy being the wrong-headed, blind dogma in AI circles that maths explains the meaning of everything.And now finally even the mighty Google admits, “Meaning is something that has eluded Computer Science.”Well, I stood up and kicked Descartes & Bayes’ maths butts back to the Dark Ages where they belong and built the system tools to restore Da Vinci’s illumination for our data.LOL.

      1. LE

        It’s actually important in life to not assume things like that and to learn by fighting, questioning and analyzing on the fly. Why? Because “enemies” is analog and not digital. You could have enemies because you are truly doing dickish things. [1] Maybe it is you and not them.Each and every situation is different. Simply thinking in advance “oh well ignore everyone it’s typical to have enemies” (what it seems Churchill wisdom might be saying is as wrong as saying “all couples have fights”. Depends on how many fights, the topics, frequently, intensity and a host of specifics. Consequently when you get married if someone tells you “it’s natural to fight don’t let it bother you” you would tend to be more likely to ignore signals and signs and question any changes that you need to make to have a good relationship. It could be you. Or maybe not.[1] Take that drug CEO who jacked the price up on the drugs that he controlled when he bought the patents. [2][2] http://www.nytimes.com/2015

        1. Twain Twain

          An important lesson is that when fighting, questioning & analyzing it’s not personal.

          1. Stephen Voris

            And for those of us who discuss all three… well, it’s a matter of emphasis. An adjacent point to the ‘weak minds’ portion of the quote: the tendency in rhetoric to slide from attacking an idea to attacking the person (or people) promoting it.

  12. JLM

    .Fred raises a great issue — how does a CEO “rent” the experience of others?The real question may be — how does a CEO “rent” the experience of others while not jeopardizing her job?Having been a CEO of public and private companies for 33 years and a CEO coach for the last 4 years (something I fell into because of my involvement here at AVC, I am quick to add), I can give you some earthy thoughts. I have lived every bit of this advice longer than a lot of folks reading it have been alive. Some of it, I paid full tuition for. Some more than once.Understand that 80% of venture funded CEOs will be gone in the first 4 years. Keeping your job is part of your job. As your company succeeds, it outruns your coverage. You have to work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. You CAN do it.Seek counsel from people who have actually been CEOs. Just because you have logged 1MM miles in business class does not mean you know how to land an airplane in a crosswind. Listen to former CEOs to the exclusion of all others.Do NOT seek counsel from people who can fire you or who have a fiduciary duty to reveal whatever you tell them to others. Yes, this means you should be very careful about pouring out your woes to a board member who may be calling his favorite head hunter the second you get off the phone.Join and participate in peer groups such as YPO (there were 3 future billionaires in my YPO chapter including Michael Dell), the Alternative Board, Vistage. Try to find a group that is as “peer” as possible. This will cost money and the company should pay for this. If you can’t find one, make one.Seek counsel in bad times — not a tough thing to do. More importantly, seek counsel in good times. Here is what happens sometimes when things are going too well:http://themusingsofthebigre…Develop a “relationship” that is on tap in an instant. Don’t seek counsel only when your hair is on fire. Your coach has to know you and the company to be able to give you the right advice.Realize that what you are wrestling with for the first time, guys like me have done hundreds of times. I have raised rivers of money. [I still hate it and it always feels like you’re a beggar with a tin cup. It’s doesn’t feel any better when you’re using your own money. But, it is a very simple iterative process and a Shih Tzu could do it. Are smarter than a Shih Tzu?]Don’t learn how to remove mines from a deadly minefield ON THE JOB. Rent the experience from someone who has actually done it before.Follow the advice you receive even when it feels like a second helping of boiled kohlrabis.Know that you only get what you negotiate. In life, you don’t get what you deserve, what is fair — you get what you negotiate.Now, let’s get our minds right.Hey, being a CEO is a great job. Knock off this crap about it being lonely at the top and how difficult it is. Sure, that is true but what is also true is that your hands are on the tiller or the yoke — it is a great job. You are going to determine the direction and fate of your company. This is a great thrill and a great responsibility.You wanted the damn job. Do the damn job. Inspiration is for amateurs. There will be days you grind it out like you are a ditch digger and there will be days that you own the freakin’ sun.Being a CEO is akin to being a Chinese feudal warlord. It is a great job. There is no better job in business and there is no better way to take a trip to the paywindow.You WILL become better at this. I promise. You will become so good you can literally work yourself out of a job. Amongst our brethren here at AVC, I have worked with some great folks who have just blossomed — personally and on their company’s bottom lines. They know it. [Haha, you know who you are.]More importantly, they did it. I might be able to nudge them in the right direction but it was in them. All the time. It takes a little friction to reveal your character. Don’t be afraid of friction. It will tell you who you are.Guess what? YOU are pretty damn good. Yes, you are.Almost everything that a good CEO does successfully becomes a repeatable process. What guys who have been CEOs can do for you quickly is to share the processes they used for years and years without having to pay the tuition to create your own process.I have every process related document that I ever created since the advent of the PC. One of the things I can do with a CEO is to show how I actually did it. Many of these docs have been worked on for a quarter of a century. Perfect? No. Battle tested? Hell yes.Dare to be great because every CEO can if they will only try. Thanks for listening.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      Do NOT seek counsel from people who can fire you or who have a fiduciary duty to reveal whatever you tell them to others. Yes, this means you should be very careful about pouring out your woesNote to men. Don’t pour out your woes out to your wife either. She doesn’t want to hear it. She only wants you to slay the animal so she can eat at night. She isn’t your mother tending to your skinned knee.With respect to all of this:You CAN do it.You WILL become better at this. I promise.Guess what? YOU are pretty damn good. Yes, you are.Dare to be great because every CEO can if they will only try. Nice but you in all honesty realize that that can’t possibly be the case. No more so than everyone is cut out to handle the olympics. Contradicted by your own “80% of venture funded CEOs will be gone in the first 4 years.”The truth is not everyone is cut out for this CEO job. There is a danger in getting involved in something where you exceed your natural abilities just because you’ve been convinced that you will be happy when you achieve your moment of glory in the sun. Especially with regards to startups (where people are foisted into a role of CEO prior to actually developing the abilities) I think there is a true danger in that. Only mitigating factor is youth and resilience.Knock off this crap about it being lonely at the top and how difficult it is. I guess the loneliness comes from having a life where you were always able to get help from others and/or do a quick web search for an answer. Real life is not like that. I don’t think someone who runs a major public corporation (and this is a guess of course) views it as “lonely at the top”. Reason being they have typically naturally and organically risen to that position, they didn’t get it by being handed a boatload of money for some idea they thought up one day or fell into.

      1. Twain Twain

        I disagree with this: “Note to men. Don’t pour out your woes out to your wife either. She doesn’t want to hear it. She only wants you to slay the animal so she can eat at night. She isn’t your mother tending to your skinned knee.”It depends on the woman.Wives who are natural-born problem solvers and more than “arm candy / trophy wives” would want their husbands to share and solve the hard stuff together as well as the rewards of that shared work.

        1. LE

          You are assuming I am talking about “arm candy” women. I have never dated an “arm candy” women for the record. Far from it. And this is more than my personal observation as well. Or based on my own experience.Does it relate to all women? Of course not.Bottom line is people can only take so much negativity and whining. And having someone who is always willing and eager to listen to your whining doesn’t help you achieve the inner perspective needed to overcome the problems that you have. In other words it can become enabling.I will note also that it could be a wonderful idea (if possible but it’s not) for a man to share his personal or work issues with another woman. However typically that is not a good idea for his relationship with his wife. Anymore than a man would want a women to share her issues with another man, unless that man was a paid therapist. Of course if the woman is in no way sexually attractive that would be mitigating the jealousy.

          1. Twain Twain

            Gah, I don’t assume you’ve ever dated “arm candy” women at all. It’s obvious in your comments about your wife and daughter.Guys have assumed I’m ideal “arm candy / trophy wife”, by the way.At least 2 of my boyfriends wanted me to fulfill this role so I showed them the door.

          2. LE

            Intelligent women who are also beautiful have this problem and it’s unfortunate for them.The good news is getting a mate is not a sale you need to do every single day and repeat. Lot’s of people out there.

          3. Stephen Voris

            Obviously you and LE are starting from different assumptions, and each might well be locally accurate, in the same way drivers have different conventions between cities – each considering the others’ habits to be alternately rude and hopelessly naive.Some assumptions are inevitable when trying to deal with six billion other minds – how much memory would it take to store the combinatoric data at one bit per connection? To quote an old math teacher of mine (who may in turn have been quoting someone else), “all models are wrong; some are useful.”One would hope that LE’s advice in this case is mostly irrelevant. actually: the people here reading it I’d expect to be foresighted enough to have figured out already whether they can share this sort of thing with their spouse – it’s prudent to hash out one’s expectations when you’re aiming to spend the rest of your life with someone, no? But then, I did just say that all models are wrong; I’m hardly exempt from that.

          4. Michael Elling

            The key takeaway from LE’s comments was “people can only take so much negativity and whining”. If you have so much to complain about then maybe you weren’t cut out for the role or you haven’t set up your team and organization to help you as Fred suggests.

          5. JamesHRH

            Let’s see if you end up:- alone- with a support system spouse- with a hyper organized, career oriented spouse

          6. Twain Twain

            In other words ….* Alpha male* Beta male* So independent & comfy in my own skin, it’s second nature to go to cinema, restaurants, events, traveling by myself on a regular basis — completely oblivious to the fact everyone else is all coupled up.I’ve experienced all 3 states.Alpha guy with IQ+EQ is the likeliest outcome.

          7. Stephen Voris

            I’d volunteer as a test subject if it weren’t for the whole “two thousand miles away” bit 😛 (though granted, that can be wrapped up in six months, and there are other possible gotchas)You’ll figure it out whichever way you end up choosing.

          8. sigmaalgebra

            The world likes all and only all the numbers in that famous math handbook A Short Table of Even Primes!

          9. sigmaalgebra

            > unless that man was a paid therapistGot to be very careful about this: (1) Most of them see as a crucial part of their job getting the patient dependent on them — e.g., they never saw someone that didn’t really need their services, and they do want to be “paid”. (2) Most of them have their own, relatively simplistic view of relationships, e.g., their patient and their sex partner — if you have or are trying to have a relationship of any significant depth, the therapist won’t understand it. (3) Therapists are far too fast to push for divorce.There is a very promising two step solution: Step 1. Get her pregnant. Step 2. Return to Step 1. This way, have Mother Nature strongly on your side. And on your side, have chemicals, Mother Nature’s really strong chemicals.Look at her from Mother Nature’s point of view: (1) Necessity. It is just darned necessary that she be a mommy. And she came from a very, very long line of women, each of which, not a single exception in the whole line going back many millions of years, was a failure. (2) Sufficiency. For her to be a mommy is essentially sufficient. So, not much more is necessary and, thus, optional and usually missing. And as we know from TV: “It’s not nice to try to fool Mother Nature.”!Two step advice to young men: First, make the money. Second, pick her, young, pretty, young, sexy, young, devoted, young, fertile, young, wants children, starting NOW, definitely arm candy, certainly a trophy, and ASAP, starting NOW, before dinner, skip dinner, and after dinner, and stay up late and get up early, get her married and pregnant and likely not in this order. Then apply the rule above.Actually, in all seriousness, there is a really good reason for arm candy: You have a biological version of machine learning. If she looks really good, there is a better chance that she is really good. So, right, she shouldn’t have a weight problem, should have perfect skin, large eyes, small nose and chin, perfect teeth, good figure with good measurements and ratios but nothing extreme, etc. She should seem in all respects to be very feminine — evidence of good hormones. Go down the list of the usual mental health and personality problems and check her out for those.Have her explain to YOU what your marriage should be like; it’s too easy for her just to parrot back to you what you said — girls are natural masters at that (starting in the crib, literally).Read some Eric Berne about asymmetry — that symmetrical stuff is toxic swill.Ah, LE, you’ve figured this out a long time ago. Some teen boys reading this may not so need some help, even if something like a Disney picture of reality.I know; I know; Twain and Shana are going to string me up. I’m just counting on them being cute, sweet, and nice as they do it, and maybe bring me some nice apple or cherry pie, they baked themselves, with a cut out of a capital letter sigma on the top!

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Wives who are natural-born problem solvers and more than “arm candy / trophy wives” would wantAs usual, anything is true for all the elements of the empty set!Next time definitely arm candy, trophy wife, with a pre-nup, for me!Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice — on that subject, won’t happen!

          1. Twain Twain

            You’d be bored silly with arm candy, trophy wife with pre-nup.Just as I’ve been bored silly when dating male arm candy.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Ah, see, you really can understand some men better than they understand themselves and provide needed therapy!So that you will remain true to the high PC doctrine of radical Feminist Jihad, much in the news lately, you are supposed to feel awful about that transgression, regard it as just a single mistake never to be repeated, regard men as lower than any rented mule (@JLM), and to apologize profusely to Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Sheryl Sandberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, Whoppi Goldberg, …, Hillary Clinton! :-)!I didn’t include Ingrid Daubechies or Ivanka Trump!

          3. Twain Twain

            Just so you know … the women you’re naming are amazing and admirable as they forge ahead in their respective fields… BUT aren’t my personal benchmarks.Mine include …Women who are super-feminine and super-smart.

          4. sigmaalgebra

            Congrats on, as a little girl, running around with as much fearless adventure, geographical sense, technical curiousity, and interest in things as any boy.Some of the things I did as a boy would scare me now — I’m lucky I lived through a lot of it.The first woman in your JPG, classically gorgeous, is with the spread spectrum idea?Ingrid is plenty accomplished and has a nice smile, but I don’t know how feminine she is. She has a current article about some of the math in machine learning in James Simon’s on-line magazine on math and science.Maybe Ivanka is more of what you have in mind. Or, maybe you are thinking about Roselind Franklin who, IMHO, got ripped off for a Nobel prize. I don’t know how feminine she was either.There is the thought: “Women don’t have to just be cared for. Women can do things too.” The last woman I heard that from died trying. It’s a risky path and, even if successful, stands to result in a weak, sick, or dead limb on the tree.The women I’ve seen up close who tried to do men’s work were all like a dog highly determined to walk on just two legs, did so for a while, always found it a struggle and not at all natural, and didn’t do it for very long.Also consider Alexandra Bellow (formerly Alexandra Ionescu Tulcea), wife of Saul Bellow, who did good work in probability, written up in part in the back of J. Neveu’s book.Apparently some of the most common examples of women who are both accomplished and feminine are in music, especially opera singers.Okay, Trump is accomplished and masculine. On YouTube are some Barbara Walters interviews of Trump. Some of these go back years. One of the more recent ones in part is in Trump’s office with his youngest son and several of his grandchildren all running around — there Trump looks the happiest of any human ever. The children look GREAT, the center of “the greatest prize life has to offer”. And in one of those interviews, one of Trump’s sons talks about how much fun the family has at Thanksgiving. No joke.So, let’s see: He and his family have activities, accomplishments, memories, and traditions they like a lot, will like a lot for as long as they live, don’t want to lose, can’t get anywhere else, and will hold them together. Too many people fail to value this little sequence, fail to reach for the greatest prize life has to offer, instead go for what Paul Tillich called “idolatrous ultimate concerns”, and, net, blow it.Or, for humans the fundamental problem in life is getting security in the face of the anxiety from our realization, as humans, that alone we are vulnerable to the hostile forces of nature and society, and the best solution is a good romantic relationship — with a good family, with Thanksgiving as one of the traditions, in the greatest prize life has to offer.

          5. Twain Twain

            Hedy Lamarr.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            Yup, her spread spectrum ideas.Then transmit the signal encrypted with a shift register sequence. Then the radar receiver will receive and keep only signals sent with that shift register sequence. So, and enemy sending out gigawatts of power trying to blind our radar won’t affect our radar. Yup, we should thank her.

          7. Twain Twain

            Marilyn vos Savant, highest IQ recorded by Guinness Book of Records, is feminine.

          8. sigmaalgebra

            If she fixes up her makeup, hair, and clothes, she could look MUCH better. I hope she has a good life.The women I saw with problems had plenty of intelligence, from quite smart up to brilliant, but got into deep, smelly, sticky trouble from some of their emotions. Even their high intelligence was not nearly enough to keep their emotions under control.I finally concluded that Mother Nature was there long before modern society that wants women to be smart and filtered out all the women with enough rational intelligence to control their emotions. As an expert once said: “Of course, women are much more emotional than men. That is the cause of all the problems [between men and women].” Succinct, comprehensive, flat statement.If I write Girls 101 for Dummies — Boys then I will advise them just to accept that girls and women are and will be driven almost entirely by their emotions and that the only real, predictable, stable happiness for them is being cared for by their husband and caring for their own small children and, later, grandchildren. It’s all just what Mother Nature wants for strong limbs on the tree, and for girls and women the rest Mother Nature just doesn’t much care about. Of course, if the mother is really talented, then Mother Nature cares about the good genes that will be passed down.Still, there is no fundamental, rational, reason women can’t accomplish a lot, and any that can, do, and are happy doing so, terrific. But if there is not to be a dark side to their abilities and accomplishments, then they also need to be strong limbs on the tree — good mommies.What I see as a grand tragedy is the radical Feminist Jihaders who told US girls and women that being just a wife and mother was something to be really ashamed of. This way, a lot of otherwise wonderful women got seriously hurt. I have a friend that did some arithmetic and concluded that the radical Feminist Jihaders did more damage to families than Hitler, Stalin, and Mao combined. The radical Feminist Jihaders stand as one of the worst disasters to civilization since, …, since, …, since the Black Death. Those feminists are trying to discount, degrade, and denigrate motherhood — dumb, ugly, wacko, sick-o. They are trying to fool Mother Nature who mostly removed such genes from the pool long ago.I’d advise boys to be very, very, very careful and, really, (1) make money (2) get some really nice, sweet, pretty, sexy, happy, smiling, fun arm-candy trophy girl and go directly for the greatest prized life has to offer get her pregnant once each 2-3 years until have a nice collection of children running around the home. For anything else, be very, very, very skeptical with one heck of a good prenup, and don’t take very long putting up with anything that looks not good. I wish I’d been told that.If some women and do both, terrific.But, at present, with the low birth rate, apparently the gene pool is being severely pruned, and we are in a period of the most rapid change in the gene pool in tens of thousands of years. What stands to be left are women who are really good as wives and mothers — and, indeed, maybe also men’s work.I’ve got some code to type and then some TeX.

      2. Jess Bachman

        I think JLM’s point was that not everyone has the natural ability, that’s why you rent experience from someone else, get a great coach.Even Michael Phelps, born to be a swimmer has to train 12 hours a day with the best coaches.

        1. LE

          Actually that’s an example of why I say “you can only be as honest as the competition”. The fact is Michael Phelps needed coaches because everybody uses coaches. So to keep up with the other athletes he needed a coach as well. If nobody used coaches (like if nobody used steroids) then it’s quite possible that people wouldn’t go this path. What others do influences what you have to do. [1]Which brings me back to another point I’d like to make which is ending up having to use drugs or alcohol in order to handle stresses which you aren’t naturally cut out to take on. Exceeding your natural limitations. [2] In small quantities not a terrible thing of course (the alcohol part).[1] Another example is SAT prep courses.[2] Not that it’s always bad to do that but I think of this when I hear that Fred needs to do Yoga every morning because I think the stresses of his job.

      3. ShanaC

        urg, relationships are complicated.Though no matter what, no one wants to be the other person therapist

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Women very much need for their husbands to be therapists. Let me count some of the ways: Why the battery in the car is dead and how to get it charged again so that she can make her hair appointment on time. Why the transmission jumps out of gear and what to do about it. Why when she plugs in the toaster oven the light over the stove goes out and what to do about it. Why the water in the toilet keeps running and what to do about it. Why the living room is drafty (the upper half of the double hung window slid down leaving an 8 inch gap at the top but behind the curtains). What scrubber to use to get the burned tomato sauce off the bottom of the Farberware pot (tangle of stainless steel with sharp edges). How to keep using the fancy Stiffel floor lamp once Mogul bulbs are no longer available. Why the vacuum cleaner quit (I got points with my girlfriend and her mother by fixing her’s — sure, she had pulled on the A/C power cable a few dozen times too hard too often). How to assemble the walnut book shelves that came in pieces. Why the desktop computer keeps saying it is too hot and how to fix it. What to do when the DVD burner won’t burn. Why the lawn mower or the weed eater won’t start — e.g., ethanol in the gas ruined the fuel lines and need to fabricate new fuel lines. Why the garage door rollers keep jumping out of the tracks. The heating element in the oven shorted out — what to do about that. The washing machine leaks water on the floor — how to fix that. Wood on the back porch keeps curling up and the nails keep coming out — what to do. E.g., get some long sheet rock screws and a 3/8″ drill as a screwdriver and pull the curled wood back into position. Then hammer the nails down again. How to get the grass from growing out between the bricks in the sidewalk. What to do about the dome light that went out in the car. How to replace the car’s windshield wiper blades. How to replace a car headlight. What to do about it when the new headlight won’t work — maybe corrosion in the power wire, so solder in new wire and seal the connection with tape and shrink tubing. What to do about low hot water flow rate due to calcium carbonate in the heating coils — install some valves in the copper lines and use some HCl, some lengths of garden hose, and a drill pump. HCl? At any hardware store as Muriatic acid. The chemical reaction? Review high school chemistry.Starting in the crib, girls are really, really good with people. They make eye contact, read and communicate with facial expressions and tones of voice, and elicit support, protection, praise, and approval from adults, especially men.In the crib, boys are really, really good with things. They are trying to hack the latch and install a Raspberry Pi with WiFi back to their smartphone in the toy firetruck on the floor.On things, the girls never catch up with the boys and, thus,very much need the boys. On many aspects of people, the boys never catch up with the girls and, thus, very much need help, e.g., therapy, from the girls. That’s part of why they need each other, why it’s a partnership. That’s Mother Nature’s way.In the office, the women form little groups and gossip, and any man is a total fool if he believes he can understand that or how that group interacts with him. Instead, he needs help from a trusted woman.Out in the garage with the delivery trucks, the men know just what the heck is going on, and any women is a total fool if she believes that she does. Instead, she needs a trusted man if she wants to know what is going on.”Men and women deserve equal respect as persons but are not the same.” Instead, they can help each other. Believe me, in the larger scheme of things, the men are getting the less good half of this exchange. The women really need for the machines to work, but the men don’t really have to understand the gossip or the office manipulations of women.Men really, really like women and are prepared to be really nice to them, but for all a women gets from a good man, it is little enough for her to help explain people, social behavior, practical psychology, personality, etc. back to him — little enough.If she doesn’t want to listen to him and help when he comes home with problems with people on the job, then he may not want to help when she has problems with electrical, mechanical, plumbing in the house, the weed eater trimmer, lawn mower, snow blower, car, TV set, computer, etc.E.g., last month, due to some symptoms of maybe a computer security problem, I did a system restore back to several months ago. Then the old Xerox Diablo, rock solid, daisy wheel printer I use — nothing better — for addressing envelopes didn’t work. I did this and that diagnostic test and started to think about XON/XOFF protocol. Found the serial connection properties and the send/receive buffer size sliders, and, yes, the receive buffer was really small. So, the system restore had changed that. It shouldn’t have. Microsoft’s mistake. So, moved the slider enough to have plenty of room for the XON/XOFF, IIRC, DC1/DC3, back from the printer, and all has been okay since. Honey, how would you know to do that? Could you use a little male therapy on that one?Look, Honey, it’s just crucial for you to know when Baby is too hot, cold, tired, excited, hungry, wet, etc., and no good asking Baby to tell you in English. So, you have to be really good at nonverbal communications, and you are. You are much better at it than men are, at least for most men for many years. So, for issues involving nonverbal communications, say, social event, he can use a lot of help from YOU.Oh, BTW, Honey, the hood latch tends to be a bit stiff. So, that heavy cord on the floor of the back seat? That’s so that you can wrap it around your right hand about three times with a loop around the handle to pull the hood latch so that you can place your feet solidly and PULL. Then you can think about how to hook up the battery charger …. And, BTW, that handle thingy with the long strip of rubber whatever hanging off it in the gadget drawer in the kitchen? There’s never been and never will be a jar cap too tight to resist that thing used effectively. When I get home, Honey, rub my shoulders, explain to me what the heck was going on with the women in the meeting today, and I’ll show you how to open the jar tops. Yes, Dear, it is about time for the space bar on your computer to quit. I’ll remove the space bar, fabricate a piece of plastic to replace the bushing that holds one end of the torque wire, use some epoxy to put the new part in place, and reinstall the space bar. I do have some 60 second epoxy. Yes, Honey, usually the wireless mice don’t work very well and go through batteries like a your Uncle Bob goes through cans of beer, but I have a spare USB wired mouse that uses no batteries and works much better — I’ll install it for you when I get home.And, Honey, I know it’s a lot of work for you in your busy schedule, but could you go ahead and order the opera tickets — I believe you will really like Tosca; he really loves her, just from her picture!

          1. Twain Twain

            Re “In the crib, boys are really, really good with things. They are trying to hack the latch”, just so you know … I hacked the lock of my grandparents’ gate when I was 2, geo-spatially navigated myself safely for 100 yards to get to my friend’s house and was caught teaching my 8 year old friend how to catch the fish in her pond — all without crying.As Grandpa recounted to my mother, he almost “had a heart attack and fell off the roof he was fixing” when he saw me AWOL from their garden and “She looked up at me like what she’d done was perfectly normal and why was I making such a fuss?!”To be sure, both genders can be clueless / brilliant about things and people.

    2. William Mougayar

      The repeatability aspect is underrated. So many young CEOs I see have never read a book on management or leadership, not that all the answers will be there, but a lot of the basics are.One can learn from books/blogs, from people who have done it, and from doing it yourself. Each learning is slightly different in its context.

      1. JLM

        .A good CEO never stops learning and then teaches what he learned which gives rise to more learning.It is an “all of the above” strategy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    3. Twain Twain

      Wondering who’s coaching Twitter. Maybe they need to get Sir Alex Ferguson or you in.@wmoug:disqus – This happened.

    4. awaldstein

      80%?This is survival of the what?Is that right?

    5. Sandy

      So helpful, as usual from you. Would love any thoughts on this.I think of a peacetime CEO as the bottom of a pyramid, or as the hubcap on a car tire, because his job is to fortify the foundation of an already successful business. Can learn this.But I think of a startup CEO as both the extreme outside and extreme inside of a wheel in one person. Very rare dichotomous personality type. It’s the one and only thing I see in common in all successful startup CEOs. Can’t learn this.I think of a startup as a horse buggy wheel. The customer want (product market fit) is the axle at the bullseye center of the wheel. The wheel falls flat and can’t roll without a customer axle.The startup CEO’s job is to constantly keep the bullseye of his wheel centered on his customer axle, and also to protect the outside rubber of his wheel against mockery or competitors or short termism punctures.The spokes are the managers. They stabilize the outside rubber of the wheel to the center bullseye customer axle. Employees fortify each spoke.The peacetime CEO’s job is to never move the bullseye center away from the customer axle, and to make the rickety wheel into a car tire.In other words, the peacetime CEO is the hubcap, or bottom of a pyramid, fortifying the foundation of a wheel that already rolls. But the startup CEO has to build a wheel that will roll.

      1. JLM

        .Very insightful comment.I think you should found and run a company for the company you “want to be” rather than the company you may be forced to be in the short term.This is the big advantage of serial entrepreneurs. They know where the road leads even when they are taking their first steps.Serial entrepreneurs show up the first day with vision, mission, strategy, tactics, objectives, values, and culture already mapped out. They do their business engine canvas, the business process graphic, and their dollar weighted org charts quickly because they understand what they mean and have done it before.As to the imagery of how leadership, management, employees all combine to serve the customers — brilliant construct. I may shoplift it. And I will NOT give you any credit. Sorry.Too many companies seek to solve a problem without first investigating whether there are any customers interested in or willing to pay for the solution.The process of starting a company is a process that ultimately will have little to do with delivering a product to the customers at a profit. It will, however, if done correctly, create an organization capable of doing just that.Too many founders and entrepreneurs get caught in the weeds of the startup process. Just do the prep work. You can change it all later.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Sandy

          Brilliant. You hit the nail on the head with who you “want to be”, and also with your profit generating advice.The difference between businesses isn’t really lifestyle vs scalable, domestic vs global, cash flow vs ad supported free. Selling toothpaste or canned soup are extremely scalable, global, ad supported businesses.The fundamental difference between lifestyle vs VC tech businesses seems to be whether you help your customer survive as “who they are now” – vs helping your customer thrive and grow into “who they want to become”.In lifesyle businesses, the customer axle steers the CEO. In tech businesses, the CEO steers the customer axle.So what kind of business you build for your customer really comes down to what you wish for yourself in your own life.

    6. bsoist


  13. Peter Mellen

    Perfect title for an article! Our company, Netcito, is working to serve exactly this need. We worked with a marketing consultant last year who put together a concept piece using the same words.

  14. BillMcNeely

    Amen. That is all

  15. iggyfanlo

    I’ve been a member of YPO/WPO for almost 10 years. The forum experience (leaders in a small group of 6-8) allows members to share business, personal and other issues. I recommend it super highly

  16. bijan

    Such a great post. I already passed it along to one founder this morning.

  17. ShanaC

    Some larger issue afoot?Beyond a coach – a therapist also might be prudent. Stress can activate old issues that you thought you dealt with (and you didn’t). Being successful may also mean dealing with those issues (aka you can’t table them the way you have previously)

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Was thinking along similar lines.

  18. creative group

    Fred:this was an excellent post. Insightful.While reading the Digital Gold by New York Times Reporter Nathaniel Popper andhim referencing your name in several chapters only provided what many have admiredabout you. Leadership!We are not impressed with a persons accomplishments other than what they have done and will do for those that are powerless. Your advocating for those without a voice is compelling especially in the city we care about. Thanks Fred!

  19. Donna Brewington White

    So good. Thanks, Fred. Will be sharing this.

  20. Pete Griffiths

    Very true.

  21. Mark Gavagan

    Countless people have suggested meditation as a step towards well being. One painless way to dip a toe in this water and see if it might be helpful is the free 10 session online trial at https://www.headspace.com/(I'm a trial user, but otherwise have no affiliate or other connection to Headspace)

  22. Douglas Crets

    Bit of an understatement… “king laments his inability to sleep”

  23. sigmaalgebra

    On the video, sorry, guys, what Fred wrote is fine, same for JLM and several more here, but I don’t get the video:First, the speaking is so passionate and dramatic, with the voice volume rising and falling, a lot of the words I can’t hear. Second, of the words I can hear, a lot of them are so distorted I can’t be sure they are even in English. Third, in a sentence when I can understand all the words, I can’t make any sense out of what he is saying.Once I had a similar experience, torqued off my wife, at Kennedy Center in DC: We were at some Shakespeare play, and, again, the speaking was so dramatic and passionate with rising and falling voice volume and, with the higher volume, so distorted, I hardly understood a single sentence the whole play. I concluded that needed to know the play by heart and then just listen to the voice as some case of a vocal substitute for music while already know the words.The guy in the video clip likely worked really hard on his performance, but I came away with nothing.Ah, maybe that’s some of why I liked math — I could be sure just what the heck was being said and could see a solid proof that it was correct.

  24. LIAD

    I never said he buried anything.

  25. JLM

    .”bury the lede”