- Unicorn Growth Strategies
- Seth Godin on Leadership
Seth Godin on Leadership
7 principles to scale your startup
Hello to every unicorn in the galaxy.
I’ve worked at the same “startup” for over eight years.
Even though we’ve grown to $100M+ in revenue, I still think of it as a startup.
And that’s because my job mostly consists of figuring out:
How to do stuff I’ve never done before, or
How to do something better than the current way we’re doing it
Every stage requires figuring out the next step gain to improve and grow our business.
The challenge is there is no proven path.
Your job as a leader is simply to win.
But learning how to lead may not come easily.
I recently saw a talk by Seth Godin, the marketing guru.
I always dismissed him outright because of his gimmicky eyewear and guru-like status.
In any case, the dude is onto something in this lecture.
He lays out several differences between leadership and management that I found uncommonly insightful.
Here are 7 of Seth Godin’s leadership principles for startups.
Be willing to be wrong
Develop a process
Aim for excellence
Choices vs decisions
Quit at the right times
Possibility is fuel
Scroll to the end for Seth’s talk about Leadership vs Management.
Today’s growth strategy is Startup Leadership Principles.
Growth stage: Any
Difficulty level: Hard
Be Willing to Be Wrong
This principle is apt because doing something new often means you’ll get a lot of stuff wrong.
If you can’t stand being wrong then you will naturally avoid situations with uncertain outcomes.
The proven paths are known to everyone and will rarely yield a competitive advantage or differentiating feature.
Embrace making probability-weighted bets and just keep moving.
A true leader owns the outcome.
It’s on you whether the team wins or fails.
Taking responsibility means accepting that your ability to harness your team’s ideas, energy and talents will determine your level of success.
I now schedule time to reflect on our goals and whether the things we’re spending time on are the actions most likely to bring us closer to our goals.
If they’re not, it’s on you to admit that maybe you were wrong!
And then propose a new set of activities better suited to your goals.
Develop a Process
Great ideas don’t just happen.
Sometimes they do, but you don’t want to rely on lightning striking.
Instead, design a way of working that regularly creates the conditions for lightning to strike.
My process looks like this:
Write down each team’s mission, strategy and goals
Reflect on how effectively we’re accomplishing each of these
Review what I think our highest points of leverage are
Get feedback from the team
Reassess whether everyone is working on the right things
Aim for Excellence
There’s a quote I love on startup Twitter about how culture is what you tolerate.
Don’t let your people set a bar lower than you yourself think is possible.
Aiming for excellence means you have a responsibility to yourself, the team and the world to do something great.
You have a responsibility to the WORLD to do great things.
If you truly believe this, it will invigorate all of your activities, fuel an unshakeable optimism and lead you to a self-fulfilling series of behaviors that move you forward.
Choices vs Decisions
Some people get lost in the weeds like it’s a damn jungle.
They do the same depth of analysis on something that would max out at X revenue per month when they should be working on something 10x or 100x.
Choices are insignificant.
Leadership is a great opportunity to let people waste your time.
Don’t let them.
Spend 90% of your time on the few important decisions or problems. Everything else is trivial.
Quit at the Right Times
I used to chase every new idea and lose enthusiasm for them days later.
In retrospect I would often wonder, “What the f*ck was I thinking?"!”
One of the most valuable exercises for impulsive people is to seriously consider the consequences each time you decide to do something.
How much time, effort and money will I have to invest before I know if it will work?
What would I be unable to do if I focus on this?
Are there any secondary consequences that might occur as a result?
Now I wait out my impulsivity and let ideas ferment.
After a few days I usually know if it’s worth pursuing or was just a shiny object passing by.
Possibility is Fuel
This sounds hokey - but believing things are possible is NECESSARY for great leadership.
As I’ve said, leadership is about finding the uncharted path for your company.
You have to believe that there are new things to be made, new discoveries await and a better version of reality exists.
Without this belief you will lack the conviction to succeed.
And people can tell when you lack conviction.
If you aren’t convinced, why should anyone else be?
I’m not one to recommend guru-type BS…
But this talk inspired me.
Godin is outspoken in his belief that marketing can be good for the world because it can change people.
That’s an idea I can get behind.
I’m totally okay admitting that I was wrong about this guy.
You should check it out too:
✨ That’s it for today!
I hope this helps you in your growth journey.
PS - what leader inspires you? I’m looking to broaden my inputs.
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