This Week at Dynamo + Founder Lessons
Thoughts on leadership from a proven leader
Week 3 has come and gone, and Mentor Madness has ended. Now the teams have to parse through the massive amounts of information accrued and keep on truckin’.
Time management skills are tested these first few weeks of the accelerator program. Remember, these ten teams are fully functioning companies with employees to manage and product to sell. So being able to participate fully in the valuable time with mentors while still maintaining the day-to-day operations of growing a business presents a significant challenge.
No one said this would be easy.
And now it’s time for…
This week we had Jeremy Bodenhamer, Cofounder at ShipHawk, talk with our teams. Here’s what we learned:
Bodenhamer is motivated to do what no one else is doing. He’s naturally a risk-taker and thrives in a challenge.
Not all founders are that way. In fact, despite his own success, Bodenhamer advises most founders against that “take on the impossible” mentality. The stress inherent to that lifestyle is hard to cope with- particularly for a founder with a family. Bodenhamer started ShipHawk when he and his wife just had their first child- not exactly the ideal timing for risking all financial stability.
While not every founder will share in Jeremy’s enthusiasm for extreme risks, it’s hard to imagine a founder who doesn’t possess a certain level of comfort with risk-taking. Starting a company is risky no matter how you slice it. So, if you’re considering jumping into entrepreneur life, make sure you have what it takes to live in that uncertainty.
Some other great takeaways from his talk include:
Understand your cofounder’s weaknesses.
Jeremy made no mention of trying to strengthen his cofounder’s weaknesses. Instead, he took it upon himself to understand those weaknesses and compensate for them. For example, he knows his cofounder is quiet and not prone to speak up in a meeting. So, Jeremy always goes out of his way to ask him what his thoughts are because he knows he can offer profound insights if given the opportunity.
Being a leader doesn’t mean doing it all.
Jeremy emphasizes how critical it is to be an excellent delegator. He encourages founders to delegate themselves out of a job. Find a team of people who are better than you at the various aspects of running a business, and that will steer your business towards success.
Other qualities of a great leader include: leading by example and not punishing employees for making bad decisions. Use those mistakes to help them learn and grow.
Bodenhamer attributes his success to more than his leadership skills. He recognized pretty early on the importance of product marketing. In fact, it may just be the most important aspect of running a business. A company cannot afford to have mediocre product marketing. A company must have a clear story that can be communicated confidently through all sales and marketing channels.
A few founders wondered, “You wouldn’t say customer experience is more important?” Bodenhamer’s response:
“Worrying about customer experience is a luxury afforded only to those who can actually sell.”
Well, he’s got a point there. So, all you aspiring founders out there, get your product marketing on point. It should be a top priority.