Vic E. Nary – CEO of A Corp.: A Corp is going gangbusters! Customer adoption is right in the best part of the hockey stick. Even the most critical of tech blogs has hailed A Corp’s product as addressing every single need of their customer. Vic was an oddball to his classmates in grad school and his idea for A Corp was never taken seriously. Even one of his professors told him he was off the mark and the idea just didn’t make sense. Lucky for him Vic refused to listen and continued to believe he had the right vision for the future. A Corp is turning down a slew of acquisition offers as it tries to grow into a multi-billion dollar company.
Ari Gant – CEO of B Inc.: B inc. is attempting to conduct it’s second down round. Sales haven’t hit their target since the company was founded and investors are sweating. Morale is low in the company and the entire board has been pressuring the CEO to rethink the initial product after customer adoption proved sad. Ari, while open to tweaking some components of the business model, is ardent about the viability of the product. He has been spotted walking around the office in “Jobsian” turtle necks and has started to let his beard grey.
What is the difference between Ari and Vic?
It might not be obvious, but Vic and Ari are basically the same person. They both have forward thinking visions of the future. They are both capable businessmen. They both have been able to assemble a company and team around their ideas. They received funding and have both been just as lucky. Only one thing separates Ari and Vic
If you think about it, the only difference between a stubborn CEO who is leading his company into the grave and the “visionary of our time” (think Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, or whoever else the Valley has bestowed the honor too) is success. The visionaries are stubborn, sometimes arrogant, and usually won’t bend significantly on what they want, but when their products hit and they are making money no one questions their ways.
Is this a bad thing?
I have come to the conclusion that to be a successful Entrepreneur, you need the perfect balance of Arrogance (the belief that you are right in the face of blatant criticism), Stubbornness (your ability to stay on the path you believe in the face of opposition), and Correctness (this makes the stubbornness and arrogance pay off … because you are the right one, not your detractors).
If you are correct, then the arrogance and stubbornness that makes you hard to deal with will make you and everyone around you very rich and successful. This is a good thing.
But the reality of things are most of us probably aren’t 100% right. We might have a good sense of what is right, but we are probably missing … something. We might have the vicinity of the target in our cross hairs, but we need the guidance of others to help us find the exact bulls eye.
You might have the market, but not the go to market strategy. You might have a great understanding of the customers needs, but no good way of explaining it to them. You may have the deep technical expertise to build the worlds best mousetrap, but ignoring the fact that the average person can’t use it makes it useless.
So as I continue to bombard myself with the knowledge and experience around me … I’m trying to get my personal mix right on target.
– Damien Peters