Are you really “killing it”?

For more than a constant decade (not including the random prior years) I have been fortunate to sit on the sidelines and at times insert myself in the middle of companies that have started with a founder, a quasi-product and a fabulous idea.

The data that I have captured in my experiences is fascinating.  I am asked all the time, are women entrepreneurs different than their male counterparts?  The answer is absolutely but now I have a real understanding of how that manifests itself as an entrepreneur.

Some founders are insanely transparent and engage as much as possible while others hold their cards so close.  The ones that hold their cards close lose out by not engaging the people around them.  Those people who are investors or peers or mentors only want to see the founder succeed.

I have got a lot better at being able to see through the founders who don’t engage as they are either insanely arrogant or so afraid of failure that they have lost the art of curiosity.  Those founders for some reason just tell everyone they are killing it.  Everything is great.  They believe that is what the investors and others around the table want to hear.  Here is a secret, we don’t.

Sometimes it can take me 30 minutes into a conversation before I really find out what is happening.  Those walls start to just crack a little or perhaps as I make my way through the maze I start to ask the right questions.  If things are going south, at least I would hope that I could be part of that conversation to help steady the ship prior to the ship being completely sunk.

Bottom line, no founder is ever just “killing it” as there is always growing pains no matter if you are a 1-year-old company or an 8-year-old company.  Honesty and transparency are the best tools you can have as a founder when you are talking to people who are sitting on your side of the fence.  We want to know what is keeping you up at night, not that everything is hunky-dory because we just don’t believe you.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Pranay Srinivasan

    Literally, “killing it” = “killing our own startup, one brag at a time”

  2. mplsvbhvr

    This is true for people and relationships in general, not just startups, founders and investors::thinking of acquaintances who obsess over social media::For me, this is a welcome reminder that no matter how great people look on the outside, there’s a life unseen which often accounts for actions misunderstood – i.e. someone relentlessly insisting that they are “killing it” — ^_^Insightful as always – thanks for sharing. Happy Friday.

  3. Pointsandfigures

    you have to build a trust relationship from Day 1 to get to learn what is keeping them up at night. too many horror stories out there of investors taking advantage of learning the inner most fears of same time, sometimes an investor can help an entrepreneur take an off ramp when the business has outgrown their skillset. not everyone is great at everything or every stage. that goes for investors too!

  4. Erin Newkirk

    And then there are those of us who overshare….hahaha!