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A Leadership Handbook for Startup Founders

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A Leadership Handbook for Founders Powered by


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This presentation consists of insights inspired by 33voices® interviews with Jenna Abdou.


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Table of Contents Be an A+ Entrepreneur with Rebecca Kaden Page 4 How to Lead the Dream Team with Mike Townsend Page 9 Recognize When It’s Time to Let Go with TJ Parker Page 20 How to Choose Smart Partners with Emmett Shine Page 25 Remember Why You Started with Chieh Huang Page 35 Don’t Give Up and Don’t Get Pissed with Scott Birnbaum Page 45 Always Move Forward with Courtney Klein Page 50 Credits Page 56


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Be an A+ Entrepreneur Rebecca Kaden Partner at Maveron @Rebeccak46


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Being aligned with the right people > Being aligned with the right market.


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Investors want to partner with entrepreneurs who are “crisp thinkers.” Bring your big vision to life with the actions you’re taking today.


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On A+ Entrepreneurs: “There’s a way they speak with vision, not just about what they want to do next but six steps down the line; Being able to articulate that in the first meeting and communicating that you have that big vision and then in the next sentence, when you drill down, being able to say tomorrow we’re doing this.”


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Your team is the most important indicator of your success as a founder. Those who succeed are intuitive about building their team, knowing when they need to grow it, and successfully onboarding new team members.


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How to Lead the Dream Team Mike Townsend Co-Founder and COO of HomeHero @Mikettownsend


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Define your culture and own it. HomeHero’s mantra is “Dream it. Plan it. Do it.” Establish a credo that enables team members to completely own their roles and constantly initiate new projects.


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Support your team members outside of the office. If your CTO wants to get in shape or your VP of Marketing wants to learn Portuguese, make it a priority to actively help them feel fulfilled.


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Maximize your ability to be an intuitive and responsive leader by asking: “Are you as happy as you possibly could be here?”


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Build Idea Teams. Despite proximity, cross-functional collaboration doesn’t evolve on its own. To ignite it, build HomeHero Idea Teams: Groups of three team members who work in different departments.


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Idea Teams meet for 45 minutes every week to discuss current projects, challenges they’re facing, and new apps, products, and hacks they’ve learned. The teams not only promote social relationships, they also enable you to constantly optimize your organizational processes.


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Praise the execution, not the output. “Appreciate, respect and give credit to the execution of ideas.”


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Whether the results are positive or negative, successful teams focus on the effort placed rather than the outcome. The most telling aspect of a new project is what the organization learned and how they can improve in the future.


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Appreciate and celebrate incremental progress. Cultivate your team members confidence by consistently acknowledging their contributions, regardless of the outcome.


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Recognize your team members uniquely. Recognition is only as deep as the way it’s received. As a founder, you’re responsible for understanding what makes individuals feel valued.


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Whether it’s a donut on somebody’s desk, a quiet thank you or an announcement at your weekly meeting recognition is most meaningful when it resonates.


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Recognize When It’s Time to Let Go TJ Parker Co-Founder and CEO of Pillpack @TJParker


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Hire great individuals who are increasingly more successful at their jobs than you ever were. Once you hire them: Get out of the way.


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“Find a balance between being close enough to things to provide guidance and make sure everything is consistent, as well as getting out of the way enough for people to really succeed in their jobs.”


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Practice the ability to clearly articulate where your business will be in five to ten years. Drill the vision down into actionable items you can accomplish today.


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Give feedback fast. Your input as CEO is the driving force to move project forwards.


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How to Choose Smart Partners Emmett Shine Founder and CEO of Gin Lane @Emmettshine


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project.


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. What are the team’s ethos?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. Do they treat their employees well?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. How are their products made? Are they transparent, responsible and ethically sourced?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. Does their product or experience make the world better?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. What are the values grounding their vision?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project. The deal breaker: Are they assholes?


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As CEO, you’re responsible for the brands your team partners with. Try asking these questions before taking on your next project.


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“No bullshit. Just solid, nice, good people who want to do work for the right reasons.”


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Be cognizant about where you place your time and energy. As a founder, your ultimate goal should be catalyzing projects. “Make them go from static to kinetic.”


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Remember Why You Started Chieh Huang Co-Founder and CEO of Boxed @Astrochieh


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Your startup is and will always be your baby. However, there comes a day when you simply cannot be a part of every decision. Identify exceptional VPs to lead each department.


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“If you think you found the right person and you’re bullish on them, you would be doing a disservice to yourself if you continue to inject yourself in that process.”


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If you want each team member to own his or her role you have to understand what it requires. Chieh is incredibly active in Boxed operations, visits their warehouses weekly and spends a day there every weekend to support his team.


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When in doubt - Remember why you started. You will inevitably face challenges as a founder. Instead of panicking, ask yourself how you would perceive your current success back in year one.


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Not a single order was placed during the first 48 hours of Boxed’s existence. This is what 2013 Chieh had to say about it: “I can’t believe you’re doubting yourself. Things are obviously progressing well. Keep marching. What the hell are you doing even looking back?”


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Establish a clear definition of what it means to be on your team. As a leader, your ultimate goal should be that every team member feels that his or her role building the company is a part of their life’s work.


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This is how Chieh describes it: “Whether we push the button or ring the bell, when we’re looking at that sign it’s going to be the folks surrounding me saying that: We all built this. It is a true group effort.”


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Actively invest in the individuals who work with you. Chieh started a foundation to pay for Boxed team members’ children to attend college.


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“I felt like it was the galvanizing moment for us as a company. People realized that ‘This guy says it all the time but he really believes in a long term vision for this company or else he wouldn’t do this.’ Walking the walk, as some would say, really helped solidify that feeling across the company.”


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Dream Bigger Scott Birnbaum Founder and Partner at Red Sea Ventures @Scottdbirnbaum


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Whether you’re a three person organization or a 3,000 person organization: “Always punch above your weight.”


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“Don’t give up and don’t get pissed.


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It’s a numbers game. It’s about going and meeting with as many people as possible and continuing to hustle until you get somebody to care.


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“Don’t turn someone into an enemy because they aren’t interested. Turn them into an ally. Try to engage them as someone who can give you constructive feedback and help you find the right partner.”


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Always Move Forward Courtney Klein Founder and CEO of Storq @courtklein


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As a leader, the most important thing you can do is: “Empower yourself to trust yourself.”


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Silence the ‘what-ifs:’ “At the end of the day, I have to tell myself that there’s a reason I started this business. There’s a reason why it’s going the direction that it’s going. I have to trust my gut, be confident, and not let all that information erode that confidence.”


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Always focus on what you’re going to do next. Don’t wallow or focus on things that happened in the past. Embrace the path forward.


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Hedge your bets by determining the magnitude of your decision and how it will impact your business. Start small and deliberately. You’ll feel empowered to make decisions when you can control the scale.


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Be humble and kind to yourself. As a founder, it’s okay to say “I’m not perfect. I’m figuring it out as I go. Hopefully I won’t make those mistakes again.” Remember, you’re doing the best that you can.


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Find this helpful? Share with a friend!


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If you have a question, submit it to 33voices Q&A for a direct answer from one of our founders or thought leaders.


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LEARN MORE


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CONNECT WITH US! Tell us what you think Jenna@33voices.com Presentation by Chase Jennings Insights by Jenna Abdou


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