Last evening, at a team dinner, a much loved colleague remarked

“We don’t have assholes in the founding team” 

He didn’t mean assholes. Instead, he was using it interchangeably with attributes such as taskmaster, autocratic, “shut the fuck up and get this done” DNA. 

I felt at peace within, when I heard this. Because over this year I have come to peace with the fact that I am not this guy, will never be, and won’t allow the culture at nearbuy to exhibit this ever. 

Early this year, I wouldn’t have been. I may have even agreed. 

I was consuming content at a crazy pace and almost everything was telling me that the best founders in the world – the Elon musk, the zuckerberg, the jobs, the Jan koums – are all “assholes”. 

That’s how the media projected them. No bullshit, taskmaster, abusing, “why the fuck are you wasting my time” – mercenaries in every sense. 

It was after I studied them deeper, read between the lines and dissociated the media interpretation from my observation, that I realized they exhibit behavior similar to how I think

  • Don’t create a false sense of urgency 

If something is required by tomorrow evening, don’t ask for it to be done today. 

Don’t let your bad planning become the reason to fuck someone’s planning

Don’t make things bigger than what they are. Always project the truth. Not the exaggerated version. 

  • Be a fervent truth seeker 

Seek the truth, because that’s the only absolute. Don’t seek opinions. Or views. Or judgement. 

And don’t stop until you find it. The team then aligns itself around the truth and not around the happiness or pleasure or an individual. 

  • Say more “let’s do it” than “no, let’s not” 

Give people the freedom to think and approach you with no hesitation 

Encourage people to challenge established norms, within or outside

Push them to find the simplest way to complex problems. 

Push them to take risks. And don’t reprimand if it fails. No one sets out to fail. 

  • Respect people

You can be disrespectful towards the situation, the circumstance, the moment. But never the person. 

“Fuck this shit” is different from “fuck you”

  • Be intolerant of mediocrity 

Mediocrity is not an absolute. And this isn’t easy to digest. 

People aren’t mediocre. They appear to be so in certain circumstances. And if those circumstances are the prominent ones in your world, then they will always look to be mediocre. In some other circumstance, they may shine. 

Let go of them. Don’t persist with them. You will rarely win.

The easiest thing to build today is a company. 

The hardest thing is to build an institution where people love to come to work. 

Asshole founders don’t create institutions. They merely start and run companies.