Startups are tricky business for many reasons. One of the trickiest of reasons is the notion of “truth.”
When you have a new idea that you think will make lots of people much happier, but you haven’t built anything yet, you have to weave such a dream that you make everyone believe in your vision. Then you have to convince a few initial employees to join when there is little more than an idea. Next investors. Then customers. And on and on and on. It never ends.
The most famous example of this topic is Steve Jobs’ reality distortion field, but every founder has had to be so excited about their idea that they deceive themselves and then proceed to deceive others in order to get initial traction.
As the founder in this podcast says, every startup will have setbacks. At that moment, telling the truth won't work. You have to be able to act like you know what you are doing even when you don’t.
Two other things come to mind related to this topic...
Viktor Frankl - Holocaust survivor and author of the best selling book Man's Search for Meaning noted that the people in concentration camps who could stay more optimistic were more likely to survive because they were living for a larger meaning. This isn’t to justify all forms of deception, but does indicate that a higher purpose/dream/vision is important to humans.
Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolution #19 - On the first day of 1943 this famous folksinger wrote 33 (amazing) resolutions for the new year. Number 19 on that list was "Keep hoping machine running.” I often think back to this list and that one reminds me how powerful hope is to human existence.
Deception is a very complicated topic and one that’s likely foreign to many people, but founders need to get good at deceiving themselves and others. For better or worse, it's a necessary founder characteristic. This is how everything new & great is created.
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 15:20 of this podcast/video.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Jeffrey Pfeffer (@JeffreyPfeffer), Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business (@StanfordBiz)
This Week In Startups (@TWistartups )
Jason Calacanis (@jason)
Jacqui Deegan (@jacqKD)
Jacob Beemer (@jacobbeemer)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.
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