When my son was about 12 or 13 years old, he came into my office and asked a simple question – “Dad, what do you do every day”? At the time, I was CEO of a 7 person software company that served the K-12 education sector. I then shared with him the concept of founder fellowship.
Jake, I replied, “every day I could do 100 different tasks. This morning I made a list, inspired by Warren Buffet, of the 10 most important things and if I am lucky I will get 3 of them completed. But here is the challenge, tomorrow there will be a brand new list of 10 that may not include the 7 I did not get done yesterday. My hope is that if I can spend more of my time on the right things, we just might build something special. And when I have doubts, I ask someone else what they would do. I call it founder fellowship”
It can be a lonely existence as a new founder. That list never seems to go away. How does one prioritize when the tasks all look equally the same?
Like many times in my life, I look to see what other founders have done with the same challenges. No reason to go this alone is always my mantra.
I was reminded of this when reading more about Steve Jobs and this story emerged from the interweb:
In the mid-1970s, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were developing the first Apple computer in Jobs’ family garage. They were looking for investors and mentors who could help them navigate the business world and bring their vision to life. Andy Grove, who was already a prominent figure in the semiconductor industry as Intel’s President and later CEO, became an early investor in Apple.
What made this relationship unique was Grove’s commitment to mentoring and advising Jobs. Every week, Grove would meet with Jobs and provide guidance and advice on various aspects of running a company, including management, strategy, and decision-making. Grove’s experience in building Intel into a powerhouse in the tech industry made him an invaluable resource for the young and ambitious Steve Jobs.
This mentorship and investment from Andy Grove played a significant role in Apple’s early success. It helped shape the company’s approach to management and corporate culture. Jobs often referred to Andy Grove as one of his key mentors and credited him with teaching him important lessons about leadership and management.
It can be a lonely existence as a new founder. Why go it alone? If you can see the value in sharing your challenges with other founders, I am here to tell you that they are ready and waiting for you to reach out to them. You see, they too reached out to those ahead of them. There are so many places to find these people, you just have to show up and ask.
Founder fellowship can be one of the most powerful tools in your new toolbox. Add it to the mix and be grateful that our community is ready and willing to help.