The Myth of the Founder

Many of us are obsessed with business founders. Specifically, what sets them apart from the rest of us? Is drive, vision, or a special insight that helps them change entire industries seemingly over night and seem to pull millions and even billions of dollars in profit from thin air? Or is it simpler, is it how they run meetings or make decisions? Is it because the take cold showers, are vegan and meditate under the full moon?

Founders fill a usual space in our culture where in they are guru, eccentric, celebrity and sometimes even comic book villain.

And why should they not? Jeff Bezos completely changed how we shop and how the internet works. Similarly, Mark Zuckerburg changed the way we communicate forever and now sways public discourse. Meanwhile Elon Musk can skyrocket the currency of a meme with a single tweet all while being in a literal space race with Jeff Bezos.

So of course, if you could become one of them, wouldn’t we? Or at the least figure out who the next one will be and invest.

These are the reasons the myths about founders are so powerful. Their stories become a filter for who gets investment capital to start companies and someone we can model ourselves after to replicate their success.

Five Tips for Starting a New Business

Being with a Focused Plan

In the beginning stages of building a business it is essential to have a focused approach to avoid wasting time and resources. Know what your plan is upfront and act on. You’ll experience less frustration if you are ready with a plan of action.

Secure Funding

Wherever your money is coming from make sure you’ve got it for sure. While there is some truth to the adage you have to spend money to make money, if you don’t have it you can’t spend it.


Keeping up a simple, professional online profile is a start; however you need to be in personal communication with local officials like your city chamber of commerce and others. Social capital is important. While the corona virus has canceled most “shoulder rubbing” events there are still ways to get connected with local officials and other business owners through online events.

Figure Out What Makes Your Business Unique

Knowing what makes you special is important. This should be integrated into many aspects of your business without over doing it. Asking your costumers and employees can help with this.

Be Ready and Willing Accept and Adapt When Change Happens

The corona virus pandemic is a perfect example. Whatever your business is, some kind of large change outside of your control will happen at some point in the lifetime of your business. Be ready for it, accept it and move on to planning to adapt to these new challenges.




Some Thoughts On Setting New Year Goals

Given this time of year is busy and stressful both in our careers and in our personal lives it seems impossible to even begin to think about next year when there is so much crammed into the end of this year. But it is really never too early to start thinking about the future.

As a leader it is your job to set the tone. When looking at your end of the year numbers, keep in mind that you’ll want to budget both time and resources to invest in the professional growth of your time. You’ll want the best quality training you can get. Whether it is keeping up with new technology, changes in regulations that affect your business, or changes to products, services and branding you’ll want your team up to date for the challenges ahead.

Pep talks, metaphoric speeches and rallying the troops is all well and good, but you’ll want real, concrete goals for the new year. Vague New Year’s resolutions like ‘getting the business into shape’ are useful and it is hard to make your team accountable for such vague goals. You want to set goals that are specific and achievable—if you set goals too high you are setting your team up for failure. You also want to set goals for which you can measure you and your team’s success. Also, give yourself and your team a time frame for achieving these goals.

At some level all successful businesses depend on quality data. Whether your team collects this data for the organization or you organization outsources their data acquisition make sure you are acquiring data that is not only accurate, but the data you actually need. Look back at your year and decide where you data was lacking.



“It’s Not Personal, It’s Business”: Duncan Coombe, PhD, Disagrees.

In a 2016 article from the Harvard Business Review, Duncan Coombe, PhD in Organizational Behavior and Leadership, discusses his disagreement over this oft used cliché masquerading as sound business and leadership advice.

Coombe tells the story of a team leader who spent a lot of time and effort mentoring a team member only to suddenly loose the team member to a competing company, completely out of the blue. The conclusion the team lead comes to is that he shouldn’t take it personally.

In response Coombe writes:
“It’s a sentiment we have all often heard in work contexts: “Don’t take it personally” or “Hey, it’s not personal, it’s business.” I’ve heard it said about feedback, conflict, difficult conversations, restructuring, losing deals, collaboration, dealing with career ups and downs – all kinds of daily workplace issues.

And yet it’s an absurd idea.

Coombe posits that we spend a lot of time at work. That most of us will spend 40-50 years at work, yet the prevailing aphorism tells us we shouldn’t take it personally. Coombe discusses that, yes, not taking it personally can make difficult situations like the one he describes easier to handle, but that are benefits to “making our work, leadership, and followership personal.”

Coombe believes that the people who have made their work personal are the one’s who we consider to be inspired, energized and successful. While those who depersonalize their work are likely not those who we’ve enjoyed working with. Coombe suggest we take a look at our own anecdotal experiences and judge for ourselves.

He goes on to write that, “this is not just about nuanced language and personal psychology; it is also about real business results.” Coombe makes a direct, positive connection between engagement and business performance. He asks, “What is engagement if not “taking it personally”?” He also notes that “Not taking it personally” is at the center of many corporate ethics scandals. That “mindless notion” that “It’s not personal, it’s business” allows business people and leaders to disengage from their responsibilities as guardians of our planet and protectors of their employees, customers and communities.

Though Coombe does warn that one still needs to manage their boundaries – that one should not attach so much of their self-worth to their work that they become psychologically vulnerable to where every mistake and mishap damages one’s self-worth. Finding a balance is key.

Coombe ends by writing:
“Yes, if you take work personally, you will get hurt along the way. You will be disappointed, be let down, and sometimes wonder if it is worth it. But just like that other great mystery of life – being in love – what really is the alternative? To not love at all so as to never be heartbroken? Surely not. To not take it personally so as to never be disappointed? Surely not.

For your own sake, and for the people who work with you, this is your life. Take it – all of it – personally.”

Another Marine Principle adapted for Business

Set the Example

You must show your team by example and not take a “Do as I say, not as I do” attitude. You will quickly alienate your staff. If your personal standards are high, they are more apt to adapt them as well. Check your own physical fitness, hygiene and appearance before commenting on theirs. Don’t set your standards higher than you are willing to go yourself.

  1. Show you are willing to do the same thing you ask of your employees/staff.
  2. Be physically fit, well-groomed, and correctly dressed.
  3. Maintain optimism, calmness, and confidence.
  4. Don’t display characteristics that could be open to criticism.
  5. Promote self-initiative.
  6. Avoid showing favoritism.
  7. Share difficulties with your staff so they see you are willing to to assume your share of them.
  8. Portray to your staff that you are the best in the position you are in.
  9. Delegate authority and avoid micro-management and over-supervision of your staff.

~ Jody Victor