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How to fight with your co-founder

In my first co-founding relationship we fought. Argued. Got upset. Disagreed. Did it all. But we never did it well. And that’s the key difference.

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19 mental models that hold you (and 119 other) startup founders back

You use mental models all. the. time. They're shortcuts, lenses that you see the world through. And as a result, affect everything in your life.Good mental models, help. But a lot of our goals, dreams and success are held back by bad mental models. Truths that we act in accordance with, but actually aren't true at all.Many of them are ones that we all use. Many of them I still use (must. try. harder).If you're unaware of them, then they could be happily working away, sabotaging your best laid plans.Working with 119 founders over the last 12 months, it's been interesting to see these mental models in action from the other side of the table.So here's an attempt to shine a light on mental models that startup founders (and non founders) use that don't help.

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How to manage complexity

Let's explore complexity and what it means for companies.

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Why you need to get lucky

Our narrative as a capitalistic society is this - to the victors go the spoils. And those victors are of course, the best warriors in that field. As a result, we like to focus on controlling our outcomes. It’s something most of us strive to do. We want to maximise our chances. We want to believe; that our talent, our skills, our product, our startup, is the only reason we do or do not make it.We also want to believe in some sort of justice. Some meritocracy feels like a fundamental requirement to sustain hope - an essential part of what it means to be human. But the narrative is a lie. A meritocracy this is not. And Lady Luck has a fair bit to do with that.

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4 tools to deliver a better story

Storytelling. Conveying a message. Helping people believe what you believe. These all contain massive arbitrage vs other strategies, because a lot of people suck at this, or pay it insufficient attention. But whilst nailing down what you say matters, how you say it can help close out some gaps in a story. It can carry a weaker message and make it stronger. And of course, with a great story, deliver it well and you’ve got a home run. Let’s talk about 4 areas of improving the how when we deliver a story:

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Descriptive vs narrative positioning.

What’s done way less than the positioning we’ve looked at before is narrative positioning. Good vs. Evil, massive shift in the world type vibes. Here's how to think about it.

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Ambition or acceptance?

He sat opposite me. A 19 year old, with all the enthusiasm that comes with it.“You’ve got to be your own worst critic”, I said, pausing just for a second to let that sink it. “Because, if you want the things other people don’t have, you’ve got to be willing to do the things that other people won’t do”. Genius, I thought. A lots changed since then. And a lot hasn’t. I’m cringing as I write this. But also clinging to it, as I still believe it.

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The other F word

Why do things fail? James Clear outlines four reasons for failure:Failure of tactics (how)Failure of strategy (what)Failure of vision (why)Failures of opportunity (who)It’s true, that failure is the likely outcome for most companies.

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Copywriting tips, from a polymath.

Copywriting is the most underrated skill in business. And something that I enjoy studying/failing at.Started dipping into the Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell, the polymath/philosopher.As his 'basic' writings are large enough to kill a small horse if you hit it with them, it's no surprise he has something to say on what makes good copy. Here are his top tips that I loved when it comes to writing…

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How to destroy joy. And why we love to do it.

When was the last time you did something just, because? No rhyme. No reason. No objective or goal. You did it because it just made you happy.

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Don't undersell yourself.

Underselling yourself is a more common issue than it's friend overselling.We'll return to the bigger topic of underselling at some point. And look at all the ways it can hurt. As its pervasive and a real bastard. But for this week, let's see what underselling yourself has to do with messing up when it comes to hiring.

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Sharing power with your co-founder. How can you make it work?

Having two people both laying claim to the overall direction of anything is typically a shitty idea. It’s why we have one elected figurehead, one General, one lead singer, one head chef. It’s no secret that sharing isn’t great when it comes to power.

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My favourite co-founder feedback framework

A 4 question framework that can help any relationship stay on track. Even co-founders.

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Need to explain what you do? Start by being a kid.

The other day, I was sat with a of the newly funded startup CEO’s.As usual, he’s smart. Technically competent. And, as with a lot of founders, has no idea how to simply explain what his new company does. Here’s how we figured that out.

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The New Normal

Covid shook the world. People just want to get back to how things were. But that's a fools game. What can startups do to really change the world and set a new normal?

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Working from home isn’t a revolution. It’s obvious

My last startup was almost totally remote.60 employees we’d never met in person, following the sun across the UK, USA and Greece. It was always interesting to see how people responded to this. “How do you know what they’re doing if you can’t see them?” Results, Karen. We look at results.

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How to win

Most people want an answer. How do I achieve X. How do I get Y. This is still true with founders. And very true with first time founders. We’re trained to be answer finders and there’s more than enough content out there to suggest there must be ‘an answer’. It’s understandable that for most people, this is a hard pill to swallow. To accept ambiguity when all you want is certainty. A founder I work with shared this with me on the topic:“Everything can’t make you win, but everything can make you fail”.

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Selling in the age of Covid

Most people are scared about the idea of approaching people to ask for their time and money in this climate. It’s understandable. The truth is, there are still needs unmet, problems still unsolved. Some of which are heightened as a result of this. If I were still selling product/services today, here would be the three things I’d be thinking about right now.

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