The world has become such a funny place. In the era of influencers, social media superstars & self-defined personal brands, we have developed a subculture where everybody wants to be the star of the show. But there can only one Bob Marley with the Wailers, only one Lennon with the Beatles and only with Cantona with Manchester United.
Here is an enduring thought:
what would Virgin be if all the executives in that business wanted to be Richard Branson?
What would Microsoft be if Paul Allen wanted to be Bill Gates, appear on every magazine, speak at every conference & hold every AGM?
What would Discovery be if Neville Koopowitz wanted so desperately to be Adrian Gore that he forgot his role?
The problem with the world today is that too many would-be entrepreneurs see the summit of the mountain but not the mountain itself. The allure of the fame attached to being a halo-entrepreneur, who is seen as the sage of all knowledge & insights and is frequently invited to speak at conferences around the world is so glaring that talented technicians and technical squareheads are sacrificing what who they are for who they feel the social pressure to become.
Far too many of entrepreneur follow GaryVee & Dan Lok and want to be the star of the show, posing in-front of private jets and full auditorium halls without asking the simple question, what are my God given gifts and talents? What is my place in the world? Where am I most effective? Where do I add the most value?
Consider a soccer team. Each team has a striker, midfielder, defender and goal keeper. The Ballon D’or has over the history of the award been overwhelmingly bestowed upon strikers. This is i part because those that score goals tend to attract more public attention and admiration that their more defense prone peers. But Christiano Ronaldo is only as good a player as his teammates enable. He can’t win championships and trophies singlehandedly. He relies on his fellow team members to do their best work and bring their A-game to the field of play everyday. Without them, he cant be him.
So too is the case with founder teams. We are not all intended nor are we built to be the frontmen (or women).
I had a co-founder. Thank God the neanderthal fired himself. He was unbelievably damp during interviews, had the imagination of used brake fluid, was as exciting to listen to as crickets in the night sky and as inspiring to the team as dry paint. All these were my role in the team and fell within my purview. His was simple and alternative: build the operational backbone & fulfilment architecture of the firm so that we can deliver value to our customers. I will get them through the door, you execute on our public promise.
Alas, off he went and found himself a PR agency to “build his brand”. Then he started appearing on Gupta newspapers, making false claims about his role in the firm in public and worse, trying to compete with me at being me. Schmichael is a phenomenal goalkeeper but he can never compete with Ronaldo on scoring goals. Thats not his script. Thats not his strength. Thats not his lane.
Founder teams only work when each of the members of the team know what their role is. As you build your start-up be sure to surround yourself with people that understand their part in the whole & are secure enough in the knowledge of who they are that they don’t feel the need to be you.
We can be equal, but we are not the same.