Founders & ambitious employees
Matt Quinn (2 time non technical co-founder, several time startup employee and 2x corporate sell out)
In failure there is still gold to be had
A really cringe thing but 100% true thing to say is that in failure there are things you can still gain.
This is what I found myself explaining to a corporate tech lifer over a coffee in December - who had by his account, never taken a risk nor experienced the stress of failure or decline.
Every failure or job you quit or team you leave will have things that you can take with you from them.
When I left Flex I took an exercise habit, a huge sense of self, a set of rules on how I wanted to communicate with people (feedback and exec comms), a set of principles that I wanted to live by and a clear understanding of just how much shit I am willing to eat to get what I want.
When you invest your time and you really invest it, not just pass time on a team - you have every right to every idea, insight, and memory you gained whilst working there. Do not let the founders who drove it into the ground take that from you.
“Take the printer and the chairs”
Use those experiences, scars and learnings for every other thing you do after. Do not feel that because you were fired or that because the startup died, you have to leave those things behind.
A good example of this is when people leave a toxic organization and say "Well I learned how not to do something".
That lesson is 2x as valuable as how to do something. (Essay on anti-patterns to come another time)
When I meet or interview people I help them reframe the bad to good.
“The company you slaved away at died a fiery death? Great! What did you learn?”
More often than not, the recipient points out that they haven’t thought about it that way yet.
Absorb this mental model, receive failures on the chin and take the printers and the chairs.
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