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7 Leadership Lessons From A Failed Startup

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Ten years ago, I co-founded a venture with some friends.

Within months, we had a team of 10. Every day felt like we were living the dream.

And then suddenly, faster than the Titanic, we sank.

So here are 7 lessons from a failed start-up.

1. Trust the Team you Build.

We had a great team, yet foolishly we didn’t trust their insights. #epicleadershipfail

2. Stay Humble.

Find a coach. You don’t know everything. This is a lesson we learned too late…

3. Say Yes.

If an opportunity is in general alignment with your vision, run with the opportunity. An imperfect opportunity today might lead to executing on the perfect vision-fulfilling opportunity tomorrow.

4. Minimize Policy.

Policies and Systems come from execution. So, wait as long as possible to put policies on paper and don’t let your policies dictate practices.

5. There is only 1 Captain.

Co-founding, team leadership, group dynamics – it’s all great. Yet, at the end of the day, there is only 1 captain; someone needs to make some calls and steer the ship.

6. Keep Moving.

Practice active implementation. Make decisions, build momentum, don’t stop.

7. Exercise Open Communication.

Give your team the information they need to help you succeed.


In the end, our startup failed to fly.

We walked away wiser, with some rich lessons in leadership.

When did you attend the school of hard knocks? And what did you learn?

Can you still implement that wisdom today?