What does it feel like to be the CEO of a startup?

What does it feel like to be the CEO of a startup? – Quora

A very insightful reply by Paul DeJoe, the founder of Ecquire.

Very tough to sleep most nights of the week. Weekends don’t mean anything to you anymore. Closing a round of financing is not a relief. It means more people are depending on you to turn their investment into 20 times what they gave you.

It’s very difficult to “turn it off”. But at the same time, television, movies and vacations become so boring to you when your company’s future might be sitting in your inbox or in the results of a new A/B test you decide to run.

You feel guilty when you’re doing something you like doing outside of the company. Only through years of wrestling with this internal fight do you recognize how the word “balance” is an art that is just as important as any other skill set you could ever hope to have. You begin to see how valuable creativity is and that you must think differently not only to win, but to see the biggest opportunity. You recognize you get your best ideas when you’re not staring at a screen. You see immediate returns on healthy distractions.

You start to respect the Duck. Paddle like hell under the water and be smooth and calm on top where everyone can see you. You learn the hard way that if you lose your cool you lose.

You always ask yourself if I am changing the World in a good way? Are people’s lives better for having known me?

You are creative and when you have an idea it has no filter before it becomes a reality. This feeling is why you can’t do anything else.

You start to see that the word “entrepreneur” is a personality. It’s difficult to talk to your friends that are not risking the same things you are because they are content with not pushing themselves or putting it all out there in the public with the likelihood of failure staring at you everyday. You start to turn a lot of your conversations with relatives into how they might exploit opportunities for profit. Those close to you will view your focus as something completely different because they don’t understand. You don’t blame them. They can’t understand if they haven’t done it themselves. It’s why you will gravitate towards other entrepreneurs. You will find reward in helping other entrepreneurs. This is my email: paul@ecquire.com. Let me know if I can help you with anything.

Your job is to create a vision, a culture, to get the right people on the bus and to inspire. When you look around at a team that believes in the vision as much as you do and trusts you will do the right thing all the time, it’s a feeling that can’t be explained. The exponential productivity from great people will always amaze you. It’s why finding the right team is the most difficult thing you will do but the most important. This learning will affect your life significantly. You will not settle for things anymore because you will see what is possible when you hold out for the best and push to find people that are the best. You don’t have a problem anymore being honest with people about not cutting it.

You start to see that you’re a leader and you have to lead or you can’t be involved with it at all. You turn down acquisition offers because you need to run the show and you feel like your team is the best in the World and you can do anything with hard work. Quitting is not an option.

You have to be willing to sleep in your car and laugh about it. You have to be able to laugh at many things because when you think of the worse things in the World that could happen to your company, they will happen. Imagine working for something for two years and then have to throw it out completely because you see in one day that it’s wrong. You realize that if your team is having fun and can always laugh that you won’t die, and in fact, the opposite will happen: you will learn to love the journey and look forward to what you do everyday even at the lowest times. You’ll hear not to get too low when things are bad and not to get too high when things are good and you’ll even give that advice. But you’ll never take it because being in the middle all the time isn’t exciting and an even keel is never worth missing out on something worth celebrating. You’ll become addicted to finding the hardest challenges because there’s a direct relationship between how difficult something is and the euphoria of a feeling when you do the impossible.

You realize that it’s much more fun when you didn’t have money and that money might be the worse thing you could have as a personal goal. If you’re lucky enough to genuinely feel this way, it is a surreal feeling that is the closest thing to peace because you realize it’s the challenges and the work that you love. Your currencies are freedom, autonomy, responsibility and recognition. Those happen to be the same currencies of the people you want around you.

You feel like a parent to your customers in that they will never realize how much you love them and it is they who validate you are not crazy. You want to hug every one of them. They mean the World to you.

You learn the most about yourself more than any other vocation as an entrepreneur. You learn what you do when you get punched in the face many many times. You learn what you do when no one is looking and when no one would find out. You learn that you are bad at many things, lucky if you’re good at a handful of things and the only thing you can ever be great at is being yourself which is why you can never compromise it. You learn how power and recognition can be addicting and see how it could corrupt so many.

You become incredibly grateful for the times that things were going as bad as they possibly could. Most people won’t get to see this in any other calling. When things are really bad, there are people that come running to help and don’t think twice about it. Tal Raviv, Gary Smith, Joe Reyes, Toan Dang, Vincent Cheung, Eric Elinow, Abe Marciano are some of them. I will forever be in their debt and I could never repay them nor would they want or expect to be repaid.

You begin to realize that in life, the luckiest people in the World only get one shot at being a part of something great. Knowing this helps you make sense of your commitment.

Of all the things said though, it’s exciting. Every day is different and so exciting. Even when it’s bad it’s exciting. Knowing that your decisions will not only affect you but many others is a weight that I would rather have any day than the weight of not controlling my future. That’s why I could not do anything else.”

Michael Lewis on Luck

Michael Lewis’s Princeton Graduation Speech

Thirty years ago I sat where you sat. I must have listened to some older person share his life experience. But I don’t remember a word of it. I can’t even tell you who spoke. What I do remember, vividly, is graduation. I’m told you’re meant to be excited, perhaps even relieved, and maybe all of you are. I wasn’t. I was totally outraged. Here I’d gone and given them four of the best years of my life and this is how they thanked me for it. By kicking me out.

At that moment I was sure of only one thing: I was of no possible economic value to the outside world. I’d majored in art history, for a start. Even then this was regarded as an act of insanity. I was almost certainly less prepared for the marketplace than most of you. Yet somehow I have wound up rich and famous. Well, sort of. I’m going to explain, briefly, how that happened. I want you to understand just how mysterious careers can be, before you go out and have one yourself.

I graduated from Princeton without ever having published a word of anything, anywhere. I didn’t write for the Prince, or for anyone else. But at Princeton, studying art history, I felt the first twinge of literary ambition. It happened while working on my senior thesis. My adviser was a truly gifted professor, an archaeologist named William Childs. The thesis tried to explain how the Italian sculptor Donatello used Greek and Roman sculpture — which is actually totally beside the point, but I’ve always wanted to tell someone. God knows what Professor Childs actually thought of it, but he helped me to become engrossed. More than engrossed: obsessed. When I handed it in I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life: to write senior theses. Or, to put it differently: to write books.

Then I went to my thesis defense. It was just a few yards from here, in McCormick Hall. I listened and waited for Professor Childs to say how well written my thesis was. He didn’t. And so after about 45 minutes I finally said, “So. What did you think of the writing?”

“Put it this way” he said. “Never try to make a living at it.”

Link: Michael Lewis – 2012 Baccalaureate Remarks

The Man in the Arena

The Man in the Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt’s speech in 1910

Working at a Startup vs a Big Company

Absolutely true. I can vouch for most of it. Once you work at one, you can never go back to a BigCo.

1 ) Responsibility, accountability, impact: at a startup it’s unavoidable to have lots of responsibility and accountability. There’s no doubt, too, that being at a startup will put you in a position to make a huge impact. If you do amazing work the entire company and all of its customers will benefit from it. And you’ll be loved for it. You’ll get notes from the CEO and other leaders complimenting you on how awesome your work is. On the flip side, if you make a big mistake, the whole company pays for it. But keep in mind that most startup cultures prefer agility and speed to cautiousness. It’s likely that your mistake won’t actually get you in trouble, as long as you were trying to do the right thing.

2 ) Risk: working at a startup is riskier. The startup likely isn’t profitable, and probably only has at most 12-18 months worth of money in the bank (this is called the startup’s runway). If the company does very well, the CEO will raise more money and extend the runway. You’ll still have a job and each round you’ll get a salary closer and closer to market rate (more about this later). If the startup doesn’t do well, you’ll be out of a job when the startup runs out of money. But you’ll be forewarned if the CEO is transparent — most of them are in earlier stages. A startup is risky because you’re building something from nothing. You’re doing something ridiculously hard because you believe in it and want nothing more than to see it succeed. You’re not failing even when all the odds are against you. You’re the underdog in many ways.

And by the way, if you’re a good engineer you’ll have zero issue finding another job. Zero. Every company in software, big and small, needs more good people. This trend won’t change for a long, long time, either.

3 ) Opportunities for generalists: generalists don’t do well at big companies. Big companies want you to be really, really good at that little thing you spend all your time on. Not at a startup. Although specialization is still important at most startups, there are far more opportunities at startups for generalists. I’m defining generalists as people that have interests in one field or many fields. For example, if you want to be an engineer and work on the website, the data infrastructure, and the mobile app, you’ll love a startup. Similarly, if you’re an engineer and want to get your hands dirty in marketing or recruiting or whatever, a startup is also a great place for you to learn and grow. To be totally clear, I’m not saying specialists don’t do well at startups — they do incredibly well. Generalists, however, don’t do well at large companies.

4 ) Ownership and leadership: at a big company you need to wait years and years to become a true leader with big ownership. Not at a startup. If you’re awesome you’ll be able to grow and move up in your career far faster. Mark Zuckerberg would have never been given a CEO role at a big company he started working for after college. The only way he could find himself at the top of an organization is by starting it, or in the general case by joining a super small team. Your career will be accelerated in a major way by joining a startup.

5 ) Transparency: startups usually have far more transparency than big companies. You’ll know why the CEO decided to raise a new round of funding, or why a VP of marketing was hired, or why the company decided to open a new arm of business, or how the CEO did the recent round of investment. There will always be information that isn’t shared, though, for example salaries and equity compensation, certain board meeting information, and certain sensitive investor information. But in general every other decision made about the company will be transparent. You’ll get to see how the company grows, why certain decisions were made, and how the company reacts to competitors and business plan changes. All of this will teach you about business and prepare you to do your own startup one day.

6 ) Company culture: you get to help define it. A company will be, for the most part, an extension of the founders’ personalities. But especially in the early stages you’ll have a huge impact on the culture of the company as well. You’ll be in a position to define company-wide celebratory goals, or traditions that the team rallies behind. At the end of the day a startup is just a few people in a room. If you’re one of those people your personality will rub off on everyone else and you’ll help create a company that is as much a part of you as you are of the company.

7 ) Hiring: you’ll do a lot of interviews, and you’ll be part of the decision to hire or not hire someone. You’ll interview engineers, marketers, sales people, anyone. You name the position, and you’ll probably interview any potential candidate. Even if you’re right out of school you’ll still be asked to interview. Of course, if you don’t like interviewing, you’ll only need interview potential team mates. Read: if you’re an engineer you’ll only interview other potential engineers.

8 ) Financial incentive: in general your salary will be lower than at a big company, but your equity, or ownership in the company, will be significantly bigger. Depending on the stage of the company you join, you’ll be granted anywhere from a few percentage points to a micro fraction of a point. If the company is bigger, you’ll get fewer shares and your salary will be more inline with the market rate. If the company is smaller, your salary will be smaller and your equity will be far greater. Equity has a long, long tail, meaning the first 5-10 employees get significantly more equity than all other employees that follow, with certain exceptions for executives. This is especially true for the first and second hires, though.

A little more about stock: if you join a company that is already doing incredibly well, you probably won’t get enough stock to retire unless the company turns into the next Facebook or Google. In most cases, you’ll only get retirement money if you’re one of the first five employees. Otherwise you’ll get a large down payment on a nice house, assuming the startup does well of course :). Let me say that all again: except in very rare occasions like Facebook or Google, you can’t expect to join a company that is already killing it and hope that you’ll retire on the money your equity brings.

9 ) Politics: I’ve never heard of a company with more than 50 people that didn’t have politics. Politics are a necessary evil whenever a company reaches a certain size. The point of no return is when the first middle manager is hired — or when the first job opens up that is about controlling people and nothing more. Small startups can have politics, too, but in the early days there’s generally too much camaraderie and too much daily work to worry about power or any other bullshit like that. Oh yeah, and while I’m here, unless the leaders of a startup are lame, there won’t be any bullshit. Everything is pragmatic at a startup, or at least should be.

10 ) Be a part of something bigger than you: at a startup you’re a part of something much bigger than just what your job asks of you. Sure, you need to write code, publish blog posts, whatever, but you’re doing much more than that. You’re building a company. It’s hard to describe what that feeling is like, though. Being a part of a small company is somewhat like creating a community or finding new best friends. You’re making something from nothing, with people who are in it for the same reasons you are. You’re at the apex of what might become something big, something meaningful and different. And the excitement is amazingly powerful.

Source: Alex Lod

How Google Could Eliminate the Amazon Threat to Android

How Google Could Eliminate the Amazon Threat to Android

Google is supposed to be focusing on Apple, which is currently dominating the tablet market with the iPad. Instead, it has been forced to fend off another major threat to Android – the Amazon Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is the biggest threat to Google, which has been trying to minimize the fragmentation of Android, and ironically, is the most popular Android tablet yet. Even so, Google has been completely locked out of the Kindle Fire ecosystem, so it probably won’t see a dime of revenue generated by the Kindle Fire.

Google is rumored to be working on a Nexus tablet to compete with the iPad, but apparently, the Nexus tablet will be an inexpensive $199 Android tablet powered by ICS which will compete with the Kindle Fire.

If Google is indeed working on such a tablet, it should stop right away.

Launching a $199 Android 4.0 tablet will not only severely impact sales of all other Android tablets and alienate its device partners like Samsung and HTC, but it will also mean Google taking a financial hit. Amazon itself is losing $10-$20 per tablet, and hopes to make money by selling Kindle content.

Here’s what Google should do instead:

Make it extremely easy to install Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on the Kindle Fire. Launch a one-click flashing tool to flash an Android 4.0 ROM on the Kindle Fire.

This would not only give it back control of the Android ecosystem, but it would also be a huge hit to Amazon, which would continue to lose money on each Kindle Fire sold with no direct way to make it back.

I ‘m not getting into the technical specifics of how it would work; I’m sure Google can figure it out.

In case it can’t be done officially, Google can always bankroll such a project or help XDA developers develop such a pure Android 4.0 ICS ROM for the Kindle Fire.

This way, Google won’t alienate its tablet hardware partners, it won’t lose money selling cheap tablets, and it can focus on its main enemy – the Apple iPad.