New vlog this morning! Transcript below or click play above.
Do you ever get a lot of email? Do you ever wish you could just do this with all that email?
Of course, then this would probably happen.
As much as I'd like to hide from email, I can't hide, and most founders cannot hide either.
The ability to deal with a crazy amount of information and prioritize it properly feeds into the one trait that is super important for every founder— Conscientiousness. That is being able to do one's work well and quickly, with diligence.
There's an interesting study by Bucknell University from 2004, linked here. It's a study of businesses that were able to survive for eight years, and it studied founders on five different traits: agreeableness, extraversion, emotional stability, openness, and conscientiousness.
Those first three had no affect on the outcome of the business after eight years. There was no significant correlation. Being agreeable or disagreeable? Maybe it doesn't matter.
However, conscientiousness and openness we do have to worry about. Conscientiousness is positively correlated. The surprising result is that openness is actually anti-correlated with success over eight years.
I think this points to a certain type of transition that happens in the life of every startup. Early on it's incredibly important to be as open and creative as possible. Later on, it's incredibly important to be as conscientious as you possibly can be.
Pre-product market fit? You need openness. You need creativity. You need the ability to do something that nobody else has done. You need the chaos of the prototyper, you needed to try things that other people have never tried. You need to be contrarian against the status quo.
But, over the long haul, that switches. It's the founder who has to manage the transition from this open, creative period, to one of scalability.
Post-product market fit is about execution. It's about that founder who found product market fit, giving power and control over to the best possible people they can possibly hire. It's about delegation, it's about goal setting, and then it's about keeping people accountable to those goals that were set. It's a switch that a lot of people fail at.
Here's what it looks like when someone who has product market fit finds it, and loses it. The graph goes up, up, up, to the right, plateaus, and then starts falling.
Founders who cannot scale, end up being overwhelmed by email first. It kind of looks like the scene from the movie "Brazil" that started this video. You're jammed for time. You become a bottleneck for the decisions you have to make. Your decision quality suffers over time.
The fix is straightforward. You must invest in your skills as a manager. You must hire people you really trust, who are excellent, and then you have to delegate and trust them. But then verify! You've got to hold them accountable.
Those are all skills that many first time founders, who start off as incredibly open, and creative, do not have, but they must either develop those skills, or hire people under them who do have those skills.
We have a finite number of hours in the day. Founders need to really manage this transition well— going from founder to CEO, running a board, running a team of executives. You have to be the player-coach, instead of just the star player.
So this is actually a pretty useful roadmap for founders. Pre-product market fit, it's about openness, it's about creativity. Later, they need to switch into conscientiousness mode. They need to take what they've learned, and then march the whole team in that direction, and hold that team accountable the way they would hold themselves accountable.
When a founding team nails the first, and then the second, that's the makings of something that can truly be great.