We all know the story of Mark Zuckerberg’s business cards that used to proclaim “I’m CEO, Bitch.” and if you don’t, you are probably either super young (and only know ‘Zuckerberg the Statesman’); or got sent to this article by a sketchy Google search (did you really want a Medium? — treat yourself to a large, my friend!). For these three people, I have reproduced the aforementioned below.
And whilst Mr Zuckerberg may have needed to make this clear given that he was barely shaving when he founded the book of faces (and still looks like he is a ‘once a week-er’, the lovable little non-hipster), I think it probably captures many people’s perspective of what being the CEO of any (but particularly, your) company is like.
My feeling is slightly different. And don’t get me wrong, this is not a ‘feel sorry for me’ piece .. far from it. I’m just thankful to be livin’ the dream. And as a result, I am happy to be doing what it takes to ensure the success of HOMYZE.
A lot of which, is being a bitch.
Um, p.s. … I’m not sure that this is actually acceptable terminology anymore, what with the gender implications, but insert your own word wherever you see ‘bitch’. And tell me what word you inserted … I hope someone uses Nordstrom.
I’ve read a lot of articles on what being a non-technical founder is supposed to entail, and a lot of them focus on keeping the tech talent happy. And of course that is important … particularly if the vast majority of people in your business are engineers. And fair enough. But it should always be in the pursuit of business objectives … to reduce the iteration cycle time; so that they can infer reasons for prioritisation in stand-ups; and of course, so everyone is doing what they can to realise company goals.
And whilst I admit that I read the articles, I always questioned who they were written for because anyone who works in a start-up must surely be aware that there are always more things to do than people to do them. And a lot of them are menial and non-technical like putting together press kits, or getting data on acquisition channels or just paying bills. But all of them need to be done … and if for some reason, you can’t add value as a non-technical founder (and come up with a way to do so on your own) then you shouldn’t really be a founder.
I have just finished Daniel J. Levitin’s great book The Organized Mind — and no, this is not a post written as a means of publicly pronouncing a book I read (but it wouldn’t be the first, obvs) — and I loved the point that was made about people who have an ‘internal locus of control’ and that this is present in those who actively look to find solutions to problems; are self-motivated; and who take pride in their work. And I realise as I interview more and more people that this is very rare … and perhaps I don’t yet have the best proxy question to identify the presence thereof.
But this what you need in a founder, whether they are technical or not.
At the end of the day, the buck stops with the CEO. And if tying up the loose ends is what is required (read ordering food and drinks for people working late, or doing the washing up so that the office is more pleasant for people to arrive the next morning), then that is what you do. It’s not the only thing you do but the only thing you should do is whatever the most important thing at that time. And it might just be that as a result of an objective that you set, others had to go above and beyond, and you wanted to show solidarity.
In the world of startups, the most attractive trait is the ability to get shit done. And well, sometimes getting shit done means doing shit work. But not doing a shit job of it. Because that would be … shit.
So, I’m happy to be the office pooper scooper. To clean up shit. To put it in its appropriate box and move on. Better to be the be-atch of a business than the boss of a bust.