As a successful startup founder, your image plays a crucial role in shaping perceptions, attracting talent, securing partnerships, and fostering trust with various stakeholders. In fact some may argue that crafting a positive, knowing, in-control image is a criterion for a successful capital fundraise. 

But, I also know that many founders are faking it. That the image they are creating covers up our doubts, our flaws and many our true self. Sometimes, I think that we as founders wear two faces: the one the public sees and the one that we live with when we are alone.

This begs the question, do we need two faces as a successful founder? Are we required to balance these two personalities?

I might posit that the non-public face is probably/hopefully closer to the real you and that person defines your character. So maybe character is what we say and do when we are not wearing our public face. 

A founder’s journey is filled with many twists and turns. Less mature founders many times think that as soon as they bust through this one wall – then things will get easier. Trust me, there are many more walls to bust through. And the walls get bigger and thicker.

American novelist James Lane Allen is credited with saying, “adversity does not build character, it reveals it. The founder journey is a continuous set of adversity challenges. Period.

Back to our question of image vs character.

Long-term success in anything requires a perseverance of character. There is no way that a crafted image can withstand the twists and turns of a successful startup.

The alternative to doubling down on character is to try and stay one step ahead of the image required to look the part. It could be done but you better get this right every time.

I would rather a more stable and authentic lean on my character. It feels like a lot less work.