A slice of humble pie at the accelerator
Being in an accelerator can be both devastating and therapeutic.
The shock of change and the challenges brought on by the program can bring out the absolute worst in you. You have to imagine that, as a first-time CEO, to go from calling all the shots in a vacuum to all of a sudden receiving the good, bad and ugly – straight up with no lube — about not only your idea and company but about YOU. It’s not easy on the ego. How could one bring oneself to listen to people who have not been in the trenches with you all this time? What do they think they see without having gone through the particular challenges you have faced as an entrepreneur: The nos, the maybes, the half-baked comparisons to this or that product? You’re the fucking CEO, right? Right?
You start to wonder why everything around you is crumbling. Your team begins to lose the faith they once had in you before the accelerator began, you butt heads with them and mentors, and every decision you make seems to be the wrong one. Before you know it, you find yourself defending against everything people suggest or point out as flaws. It’s not long until you place the blame squarely on the accelerator and the arrogant bastards who run it, and not much longer after that you find yourself saying “I can’t wait to go back to my hometown” because you’ve lost the passion for your start-up.
Things start to deteriorate more, then one of two things happen: (1) the program accelerates the failure of your company and you go down with the ship or (2) you realize that you, the CEO, are the arrogant, stubborn, mean, pathetic excuse for a leader and that everyone around you, including your team and the mentors have only been trying to help you, not attack you. It’s almost entirely your own damned fault. You gape in awe at articles online and chapters of self-help books that confirm what a muppet you’ve been as all the things they advise against, you find yourself guilty of. You begin to admit that you’ve made mistakes and don’t know everything, humbling yourself and ditching the ego that got you in so much shit in the first place.
You park your stupid ass in whatever city the accelerator is based in and you look back at all the notes you took and never read since writing them. From there you tell your team how sorry you are and assure them that you’re done talking and are ready to listen – and you fucking mean it. You tell your mentors the same, even if they don’t want to believe you at first, then go about proving that you mean it by living it and being the CEO you should be and realizing that you must earn your title every day in the eyes of your team and anyone looking at you to invest. The bottom line is that you are at their service. Your job is to set the direction of the company, ask the opinion of your partners and then do everything you can to make the resources available to your team to reach the goal. Your team starts to believe in you again and you all regain your passion for what you do. You thank them sincerely for their hard work and dedication.
You are redeemed. You grow as a person. Your product will change the world.
Then you write it all down in a public blog post as a testament to anyone who will read it that you will never make the same mistake again.
A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
- Charles F. Kettering